A proposal to reclaim Chelsea's streets and sidewalks for the people of Chelsea
If residents in Queens can have green spaces on their
sidewalks where they can relax and schmooze
then we should also be able to do so in Chelsea
Two Chelsea seniors chew the fat at one of Park Chelsea's
low cost, ecologically friendly Sidewalk Garden Microparks (simulation)
I took a walk throughout Chelsea to look at its parks, playgrounds, outdoor cafes, and public plazas. I found that the basic shared characteristic is that they are a place where a person can sit down and relax. Some of them have more amenities, grass, trees, food, basketball courts, but what is common to all of them, at the most basic level, is that a person can park themselves.
The Three Amigos
Three news boxes enjoying a sunny afternoon on the streets of Chelsea
Now, if you walk through the streets of Chelsea you will find the following: on every block there is car parking, and motorcycle parking, and you'll also find on our streets parked wastebaskets, bicycles, fire hydrants, telephone booths, trees, newspaper racks, parking meters and other inanimate objects. But what you'll rarely find in Chelsea is a place for people to park. What is evident is that the design of our city outdoor spaces has evolved in favor of automobiles and other inanimate objects, not humans, who have been relegated to a few and generally far between parks, playgrounds and plazas. Our streets are currently designed to be thoroughfares for people to go from one place to another as opposed to them being destinations in and of themselves.
"... for the last 50 years, city streets have been managed less for the benefit of neighborhoods they serve and more for the traffic passing through them. . . Although most of its residents travel by foot, transit or bicycle New York City streets prioritize drivers" -- Blueprint for the Upper West Side
The same area in Chelsea,Manhattan circa 2011
Prior to the arrival of Western civilization, the area now know as Chelsea was a place where its inhabitants could sit down and relax anyplace.. We cannot turn back the clock in a way that will allow us to sit and relax on any spot in Chelsea. However what we can do is to redesign the streets and sidewalks of current day Chelsea in a way that will recapture a bit of people-friendly Chelsea of yesteryear.
Park Chelsea is meant to place a park like environment
within a minute or two walk of everyone in Chelsea.
The following is a list of a few possible options to create Park Chelsea.
- BYOBF- 'bring your own beverage and food' sidewalk cafes
- "play opportunities" on every block in Park Chelsea
- community centers/meeting places on many blocks
- community information kiosks on every block (listing community notices,street amenities, including publicly accessible restrooms)
-NY magazine July 15, 1974 William H Whyte