By Tyler Falk
Posting in Cities
Alleys don't have a reputation as amazing public spaces, but a trend in northwest cities is changing that.
Alleys: dirty, dangerous, mysterious.
But a trend in northwest cities is changing those negative perceptions of alleys by turning them into desirable urban spaces.
Alyse Nelson, a city planner in Washington state, posts an inspiring photo essay on the Sightline Daily blog about the overlooked potential of urban alleys as great places.
In places across the urban Northwest and beyond, neighbors are beginning to reclaim their lanes, turning them into pedestrian passages, marketplaces, and even gathering places—car-free, human-scaled, edgy and intimate. The possibilities of these neglected urban courtyards are ample, and city-makers are taking note.
Take Seattle's Nord Alley (right). Before it was a wasteland. Now, with very little work, the alley is cleaned up and offers public art and a welcoming gathering place. So inviting that crowds gathered here during the last World Cup to cheer on their favorite team. Here's Nelson:
Led by International Sustainability Institute’s Todd Vogel, Nord Alley’s change-over required limited physical improvement. Vogel and his neighbors removed the boards from the windows, and bought some yard furniture and plants from Craigslist. Seattle’s Alley Art Project assembled business owners, artists, and the City of Seattle to hang a glass and metal sculpture over the Nord Alley (video, at 5:50). Most important, Vogel began hosting parties to coincide with the monthly art walk in Nord’s Pioneer Square neighborhood.
Alleys might seem like only a minor part of the urban landscape, but they are more numerous than you might think. A group of University of Washington students studied the alleys in Seattle and found that if downtown Seattle reclaimed its alleys it could increase its public space by 50 percent in downtown Seattle. That's huge. In fact it means that downtown alleys cover half as much space as all of the downtown parks, plazas, and pedestrian-oriented spaces. That's a large potential for making the city more walkable, safe, and connected.
Check out the photo essay for other amazing alleys.
Photo 1: katherine lynn/Flickr
Photo 2: xoque/Flickr
Aug 29, 2011
But if you clean up the alley ways, where will the bums sleep and where will the hookers ply their trade? What's going to happen is if everybody is in the alley, then the bums, hookers and other miscellaneous miscreants will then be forced out into the streets! Then the children will be able to see the dregs of society in the open daylight! We can't have that now, can we?
Hey Mr. Tech_ed, how do you define bums? People without a job? People without a home? I am not going to address your Hooker contention right now but will later. You seem to believe that if we attack the under privileged, the unfortunate, that it somehow improves the rest of us's position. Kick a down dog, attack the weak and the meek, what you propose is just Fucking Sick! Leave these people alone and let them survive the best they can or know how or asshole take them in to your home and help them!