Open Streets Four Ways


It’s the time of the year again when the sun is out and the streets are alive. From festivals to block parties — and my favorite, open streets — there’s just something about summer that makes a city more vibrant and human scale.

Philly Free Streets, the city’s first open streets event in 2016 (Photo by Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman)

Open streets events in particular are important in more ways than one. Not only do they showcase streets as public spaces — as some of the largest public spaces we have in cities — but they provide a demonstration of ownership of space and remind us all that we have the right to the city in how we play, get around, and prioritize people over cars. More than this, they provide the incentives and cultural shift necessary to make lasting improvements to our urban landscapes.

In the past year I’ve been lucky enough to take part in several different iterations of open streets events across the country. In my observations of these events I noticed some interesting similarities as well as differences — in part due to geography perhaps, maybe even population, or just the preferences of the open streets coordinators. Coming from the perspective of an uninformed participant*, I’ve summarized my observations and the basic information for four open streets events, ranging from the Mission District in San Francisco, to Philadelphia, PA.

Open Street #1: Sunday Streets SF in the Mission District

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