‘Pop-up plaza’ transforms Downtown Crossing — for now
The city of Boston on Tuesday morning transformed two blocks near Franklin and Arch streets, creating a “pop-up” plaza.
Chris Osgood, the city’s chief of streets, said Monday that the experiment would be largely about making the city more enjoyable. He pointed to areas such as Quincy Market, which caters to many more pedestrians than drivers.
“It’s a good example of ways in which places can become not just a place you go by every day, but where you want to end up and want to be,” he said.
The “pop-up plaza” is a prelude to what the city wants there eventually: a permanent plaza that would invite more people to sit down in a busy area outside Millennium Tower, one of the highest-profile new luxury condominium complexes in Boston. Millennium Partners, the company that developed the tower, worked with the city, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the Public Works Department, and the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District to set up the pilot.
Alice Brown, a project manager from Go Boston 2030, the city’s campaign to lay out transportation goals, said the temporary plaza would help Boston gather thoughts on how best to serve residents, businesses, and drivers who interact with the area. City workers are expected to move around chairs and planters, assessing how big or how small the plaza should be.
There’s a phrase for this kind of experimentation: tactical urbanism. It means a temporary, often low-cost project — think of a food truck festival or a closed street — that is supposed to make people enjoy the city more.
For advocates who push for more walking and biking on Boston’s streets, it’s a welcome change. Wendy Landman, executive director of WalkBoston, which advocates for making walking safer in Boston, said Tuesday’s experiment will open eyes.
“People get so used to seeing things operate in one way,” she said. “For a lot of people, it’s really hard to visualize how to operate in a different way. It makes people nervous.”