A blog for better streets and public spaces in Portland, Maine.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Social Life of Congress Square

In their pitch to the City Council, the architect for the Eastland Hotel's development proposal for Congress Square included a number of points from William H. Whyte's book "The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces," a brilliant empirical study of what makes successful city parks work.

There's a great film version of "The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces" that illuminate Whyte's theories with detailed footage of New York's Seagram Plaza circa 1980. It's a lot of fun to watch, and not just because it offers a filmed version of the people-watching that attracts us to good parks. Whyte's observations and photography also brilliantly illuminate how subtle elements of design — things most of us don't consciously notice — can have tremendous impact on how public spaces are used.

Any Portlanders interested in Congress Square and its future should treat themselves to spending an hour with this film. Enjoy!

1 comment:

casper said...

Saw this a while ago. It shows what is wrong with the park and what is the solution to making it a great park.