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City Hall Plaza turned into giant patio

People enjoyed the chairs on City Hall Plaza in the Friday sun.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

It’s served as a concert venue, a stage to celebrate Boston Pride Week, and a landing spot for numerous food festivals.

Now, City Hall Plaza is a place for people to rest and relax.

The red-brick landscape outside the municipal building has been transformed into a picnic space for workers and visitors, after the city this week placed more than 40 plastic Adirondack-style chairs on the plaza.

Daniel Koh, chief of staff for Mayor Martin J. Walsh, said the installation is part of a strategy to make the area more welcoming to people.

Koh has already seen people sitting in the chairs, soaking up the sun, he said.


“A lot of people are walking by City Hall, but not a lot of people stop and enjoy themselves,” he said. “The more people we can get out there to enjoy it, the more gratifying it is for us.”

On a cool Friday afternoon, Sean Nabi and his friend Jules Dean gazed out at the plaza as people bustled by.

“I think it’s fantastic,” said Nabi, who works at the nearby John F. Kennedy Federal Building. “Having an opportunity to sort of come here and take in the beauty that is Boston, the beauty that is Government Center, is great. It gives you a reason to get out.”

In addition to the lounge chairs, the city plans to place 20 tables and regular chairs outside City Hall over the next few weeks, creating an outdoor patio where people can enjoy lunch.

The plaza is sometimes transformed for events like the Boston Calling music festival, but Koh said city leaders want people to visit more regularly.

Walsh’s administration has tried other strategies to make the stark concrete building more welcoming.

In the lobby last September, artist Liz LaManche installed the “Stairs of Fabulousness,” using colorful strips to bring the steps to life.


Last Christmas, workers from Walsh’s Office of New Urban Mechanics hooked up a holiday tree that changed colors based on tweets sent by constituents.

And on June 19, the plaza outside will be used for the Donna Summer Roller Disco Party.

Koh said the city plans next month to solicit ideas from residents on how the plaza could be better used.

“Maybe it’s a sing-along, or a soccer game — we don’t know what’s going to come back . . . but we want to make sure we empower people,” Koh said.

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.