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November 30, 2015

Don’t fence me in: New York pulls down the gates on its public realm

Crowd-sourcing less congestion.

With about 120 million square metres of green space, New York (like Adelaide) is a city defined by its parks.

A visit to New York was once a very different experience. Now, when you come up out of the subway or step from a cab into the Manhattan summer you’ll be confronted by huge planter boxes full of flowers, fake turf and deck chairs on reclaimed roads. And the bikes! Bikes just riding whichever way they like up a street, and food vendors on every corner. But, yes, okay, the hot dog carts have always been there.

But it really looks like the Splash Adelaide team has taken over the Big Apple in many ways. Who would have thought New York needed activating?

But it did, and the city is now taking activation one step further. In an effort to make its green spaces more open and welcoming, NYC Parks has launched Parks Without Borders, a design project that will seamlessly connect parks with the city’s streets.

Again, one of its stated objectives is to “create vibrant public spaces by transforming underused areas”. They’re even using the big ‘V’ word!

The project is incredibly consultative. People of New York are encouraged to engage with the process via the website, suggest new projects and quickly access a custom Google map of NYC to comment directly on which park’s borders need improving.

This effortless and meaningful incorporation of a digital interface to deliver the project is perhaps where Adelaide could take heed.

Our favourite instruction from NYC Parks: “Make sure to spread the word and get your neighbours involved. The more suggestions a park receives, the more likely it will be selected!”

A simple way to make sure the most relevant projects are actioned first.

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