Dwell

An Oral History of the Parklet

With a wooden bench, a strip of sod, a hastily purchased tree, and a handful of quarters, three designers from Rebar, an art and design studio with a bent for activism, took over a nondescript parking space in downtown San Francisco on a busy weekday in 2005 and turned it into a tiny park. Passersby on their lunch breaks stopped to look at the oddity. Many rolled their eyes. But people came. They sat. Ate pizza. Talked to each other. Squished their toes in the grass. Beyond its inherent peculiarity, this minipark accomplished something truly punk rock—it dared to reclaim a public space previously intended for private automobiles.

The idea was so brilliant and yet so obvious it sparked an annual event called Park(ing) Day, when people around the world take over parking spots

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