People spot creates urban oasis, encourages Placemaking - Metropolitan Planning Council

Skip to main content

People spot creates urban oasis, encourages Placemaking

MPC Research Assistant Ariel Ranieri authored this post.

That picture up above? It is a people spot.

It used to be parallel parking in Andersonville. Actually, it used to be my personal preferred parallel parking space in Andersonville, which is ironic, considering I’ve been encouraging exactly this sort of behavior for the past three months:

A people spot (or in cities like San Francisco, where they have proliferated, a “parklet”) is a tiny park plunked down in a series of “repossessed” parallel parking spaces. Much like a park, it is open to the public and allows for the free and organic flow of community activity. This trial run in Andersonville has an herb garden along the perimeter and a small hill – well, at least a “hill-let.” A group of Kickstarter backers and nonprofit organizations chipped in to cover the $15,000 price tag, according to and the Chicago Tribune. Three more spots around the city complete this year's trial run, with many more planned for 2013 by the project's own kickstarter, the Chicago Department of Transportation.

In San Francisco the parklets are year-round. Thanks to Chicago’s weather, Andersonville’s people spot is predicted to stay open through November (they’re feeling optimistic).

I’ve never been much for parks. I like to have a trajectory, and parks require much more of a “sit and enjoy” frame of mind that I look forward to cultivating in my old age. That said, I was in the neighborhood, waiting for my dance class to begin, and it was a beautiful day. This parklet-people-spot-thing seemed like a better place than my dance studio to kill 10 minutes, so I bought a scone from a café down the street and parked myself for a bit.

I came, I sat, I enjoyed.

And I guess that was the point. Here was I, generally zipping from car to studio and back again, confronted with something outside the ordinary. Instead of a place to park cars, this was a place to park people. Thanks to this people spot, not only had I stopped to make a local purchase, I had taken time to look around a bit. Akira, for example, was having a sidewalk sale. The furniture shop down the way caught my eye with its customary street-side markdowns.

People refer to “the art of Placemaking.” I’ve always thought of art as the relationship between artist and artwork, so I guess that makes Placemaking the art of community. We tend to exist via text and Twitter these days. We cram our days with activities then wonder where the time went. Community has, in its own way, become an art.

I hope Chicago develops more people spots. Maybe what we need is to park our cars less and ourselves more. 


No comments

More posts by Marisa

All posts by Marisa »

MPC on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter »

Stay in the loop!

MPC's Regionalist newsletter keeps you up to date with our work and our upcoming events.?

Subscribe to Regionalist

Most popular news

Browse by date »

This page can be found online at

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
312 922 5616

Sign up for newsletter and alerts »

Shaping a better, bolder, more equitable future for everyone

For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has partnered with communities, businesses, and governments to unleash the greatness of the Chicago region. We believe that every neighborhood has promise, every community should be heard, and every person can thrive. To tackle the toughest urban planning and development challenges, we create collaborations that change perceptions, conversations—and the status quo. Read more about our work »

Donate »