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Cincinnatians transform dozens of parking spaces into temporary parks

For the fifth straight year, Cincinnatians took to the streets to transform on-street parking spaces into temporary public parks. The activities were part of a movement of cities throughout the world on Park(ing) Day last Friday.

For the fifth straight year Cincinnati has participated in the international advocacy effort known as Park(ing) Day. The event, which takes place annually on the fourth Friday in September, aims to draw attention to how much public space is dedicated to automobile parking in our communities. Community organizers do this by taking over on-street parking spaces in cities throughout the world, and turning them into temporary spaces that are more usable by the general public.

In past years Cincinnati has seen parking spaces transformed in the Central Business District, Over-the-Rhine and Clifton Heights. The Central Business District has served as the most hostile location for the activists with several being confronted by business owners and police in past years. Over-the-Rhine, on the contrary, has become the defacto home for the movement, and in 2012 saw more than a dozen spaces converted in the historic neighborhood.

Temporary park/cafe space on Main Street outside of Park+Vine. Photograph by Travis Estell for UrbanCincy.

Cincinnati’s 2012 campaign took on a much different flavor than in past years. Instead of a small collection of grassroots spaces, Merchants of Main Street partnered with Art on the Streets to create temporary art in spaces up and down Main Street between Central Parkway and Liberty Street. The effort included ballet dancers, painters, art installations, and a violinist between 5pm and 7pm.

While the active art spaces took place outside of core business hours, when many Park(ing) Day spaces are set up due to parking demand, organizers were able to dramatically increase the number of converted spaces, and the number of people involved.

Also showcased during this year’s Park(ing) Day was a preview version of what will become Cincinnati’s first parklet – a mini-park built on top of an on-street parking space – in front of Tucker’s on Vine Street.

The following slideshow highlights many of the parking spaces transformed into other uses during Cincinnati’s 2012 Park(ing) Day. All photographs were taken by Travis Estell for UrbanCincy.

By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.