Our streets have to be public spaces that are active and lively, not just traffic sewers. How are we doing?
As Canada’s 150th whimpers away, here’s a reminder of a more optimistic era: the Centennial and Expo 67, as evidence on a autumn street display in Little Italy:
Let’s get a closer look:
Who was Norman and how did he get this license plate on his wagon? Did he go to Expo 67? Is he now retired and downsizing thus the wagon has left home? Or did someone buy it for him, and maybe he never got there at all, rather like those Grandma Got Me This Tshirt from Florida?
Speaking of which, did Mark get this license plate as a souvenir of his visit or was it a take home by someone else?
Are Mark and Norman still healthy 58 year olds? Did they move away? Or are they dead? Or maybe they met and are married?
The fall display along Preston Street was a total winner this year. There were bales of hay and objets d’art at every corner. Pumpkins too. I noticed some, but very little vandalism, which I find heartening. Everyone I mentioned the displays to responded with recognition and appreciation, so they didn’t go unnoticed.
The displays stayed up for a bit less than two months with just some mid-term freshening up and dusting. So long, the grass began to spontaneously sprout:
Flags sprouted where a too-big parking lot along the street attracted another food truck:
Encore? There’s going to be a light extravaganza on Preston on Nov 25 and 26th that’s going to offer a lot more public engagement than Miwate or the flashing lights in the subway hole.
Our streets have to be four-season public spaces. They need to be lively. If we relegate them to being ugly move-traffic-at-any-cost wastelands, we end up with traffic sewers and buildings that turn their backs on the public realm.
More activities on the street makes it look like we are getting to the amenity space environment and away from the traffic sewer environment.