The crew that brought us the 3rd Avenue plaza, Better Broadway and Better Naito are about to embark on yet another ambitious project: this Saturday Better Block PDX will connect the north and south Park Blocks to create a one-mile stretch of carfree streets and plazas.
It’s an effort in partnership with the City of Portland and nonprofit Oregon Walks to offer a sneak peak of the future “Green Loop” project. And like their previous efforts (which have been very successful), organizers hope to plant seeds with Portlanders that this is how downtown could — and should — always look and feel.
Or, as organizers say in the official press release, it’ll be, “a one-day open street demonstration project intended to inspire us all to reimagine our downtown streets as carfree, people-first environments.”
In addition to 26 blocks of open streets where people can walk and role undeterred by the usual dominance of motorized vehicles, this event will also create a new public plaza on SW Ankeny between Broadway and Park. This little alleyway between Bailey’s Taproom and Mary’s Club is similar to the one adjacent to Voodoo just a few blocks away. That is, before it became a carfree promenade and plaza.
You could also think of Saturday’s event as a mini Sunday Parkways.
While organizers are certainly looking toward the future, their idea to reduce car use in this part of downtown goes way back in Portland planning history. 44 years back. The 1972 Downtown Plan (PDF) as adopted by City Council said we should, “develop major pedestrian-bicycle circulation along the south park blocks,” and “close Park and Ninth avenues to vehicular traffic, except for service access.”
We haven’t exactly lived up to that plan, but on Saturday we’ll get closer than ever. Park Avenue will be carfree from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm between NW Hoyt and SW Morrison and from SW Main to Market.
The event officially opens at 10:00 am and there will be a ceremonial kickoff at 11:00 am on SW Ankeny at Broadway. It also coincides with the International Open Streets Summit which begins tomorrow and runs through Sunday at Portland State University.
Full details at BetterBlockPDX.org.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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