November 26, 2002

Car Free Public Squares

Category: Urban Planning

Brussels: This is the Grand Place in Brussels, one of the nicest public squares I've ever seen. It seems most European cities have something equivalent, if not quite as grand. Squares such as this are more than just tourist attractions, they're ideal places to meet, perform, hang out, and enjoy the city.

But American cities are sorely lacking in this department. Obviously, history has a lot to do with it, but often it's bad planning and neglect that have allowed existing public squares to be forgotten or underused. Traffic is a major reason: San Francisco's Union Square was recently redone, and although it looks nice, it's still surrounded by busy traffic which creates an unpleasant barrier, and you still won't see too many people hanging out there at cafes. Well, there are no cafes in fact. This is also why, although Times Square is impresive, it's not really a nice place to gather. I'm not sure Times Square is a realistic candidate for going car free, but it wouldn't be too hard to improve Union Square this way by closing off two or three sides to cars.

Posted by Nick at November 26, 2002 01:00 PM

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