Highway Median Becomes a Green Oasis in Miami

© Ana Bikic. The temporary 'Bayfront Parkway.'

Back in my college days at U.C. Santa Cruz, there was one place downtown that you just had to go to for a big weekend breakfast. The line was always long, and there wasn't much room to wait on the sidewalk, so people would colonize the street median, sitting there sipping coffee and chatting away, as if they were in a proper park rather than the middle of the road.

This week, urban activists in Miami have arranged a similar takeover -- except on a much bigger scale.

Parking Lot Becomes Pop-Up Park For Five Days
Working with an architecture firm and the city's parking authority, the urban planning, design, and advocacy firm The Street Plans Collaborative bought out a 60-space parking lot in the middle of busy Biscayne Boulevard for five days, "temporarily converting the median into a pop-up public park," The Atlantic Cities blog reported Friday. Commenting on the article from the half-acre "parklet," one reader wrote:

"[I]t is amazing here!!! Music on stage, some chairs, a few food trucks. Sure there is roaring traffic not far away but this is making this terrible space something special!"

© Street Plans Collaborative. The Biscayne Boulevard parking lot before the transformation.

Free Yoga And Green Space Until Sundown On Sunday
Inspired by the High Line project in New York, La Rambla in Barcelona, and annual Park(ing) Day events all over the world, the "Bayfront Parkway" was intended in part to draw attention to how the highway separates downtown Miami from its waterfront green spaces. The project has also shown that replacing parking lots with parks is feasible, and not just temporarily, Tony Garcia from The Street Plans Collaborative told The Atlantic Cities:

"You would think that by taking 60 [parking] spaces out of commission that we would squeeze demand on other lots nearby, and that just hasn’t been our experience... It’s very promising."

If you want to experience this highway oasis -- and its free yoga classes and art workshops -- for yourself, head on over this weekend: The sod, seating, and outdoor umbrellas temporarily donated to enliven the space will be pulled up at sundown Sunday, March 4.

Tags: Cities | Florida | Urban Life | Urban Planning

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