The last year in New York has shown the tremendous capacity of our city streets.
As the City was struck by COVID-19, we saw seismic shifts in the fabric of our neighborhoods.
Street life suffered as New Yorkers stayed home, e-commerce soared, businesses and bustling retail corridors shuttered, and transit emptied. Yet neighborhood streets became a site of support for New Yorkers. Mutual aid networks distributed food and activated community fridges. Demonstrators marched in support of the Movement for Black Lives. Artists memorialized friends and neighbors lost.
Our streets also became sites to socialize, dine, exercise, and play. City government responded nimbly to the crisis by piloting Open Streets programs, enabling restaurants, businesses, and people to reclaim street space from private vehicles. As our second summer approaches, many New Yorkers are clamoring to make these temporary programs permanent. Critics have argued that the program should be strengthened so underinvested neighborhoods can target the support and capital they need to transform their streets in sustainable ways.
Now, there is significant opportunity for designers, planners, policymakers, and community members to boldly reimagine how our public realm is designed and managed for the public good, with racial justice and equity at the fore. New York City will need an inspiring strategy to permanently reclaim streets for all New Yorkers.
In our 2021-2022 program Streets Ahead, Urban Design Forum invites architects, landscape architects, planners, developers, public officials, artists, community organizers, scholars, lawyers, journalists, and community developers to advance ideas and proposals to envision a more vibrant, equitable streetscape.
CLICK HERE to see how landscape architects can get involved.