DMI Blog

Graham Beck

Block Party NYC

Block Parties have a storied history in New York City. They've been celebrated in song and celluloid and may be as much a symbol of urban life as taxi cabs and turn-styles. They offer families and friends a rare and cherished opportunity: to make an underutilized public space usually filled with a car or two or even three the most desirable place in the neighborhood teaming with people of all ages.

A group calling itself the New York City Streets Renaissance Campaign has latched on to the power of block parties and launched an effort to sponsor and throw 30 in the summer of 2008. The group, supported by Transportation Alternatives, The Project for Public Space, and The Open Planning Project, writes on their website,

"Block Party NYC helps neighbors build consensus around the value of reduced car traffic on neighborhood streets. This is your chance to host a party and develop a plan to build a greener and safer neighborhood at the same time! Block Party NYC brings neighbors together with safe-streets experts in a fun atmosphere to draw new street designs that better suit community needs."

The idea behind it is a smart and simple one. Who wouldn’t be able to see the value of repurposing street space at an event that repurposes the street? And considering that Traffic's Human Toll, a 2006 study of four NYC neighborhoods, found that residents living on heavier traffic streets: possess fewer friends; harbor more negative perceptions of their block; are more frequently disrupted while sleeping, eating a meal and having a conversation; and spend less time outdoors, efforts like Block Party NYC make a lot of sense.

In fact, they’re part of a growing trend of car-free programming that’s popping up from Paris to Bogota and everywhere in between. It’s partly environmental, partly communal and partly about happiness. Of course in New York City, they’re trying to start with it partly being a party.

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Posted at 11:56 AM, Feb 15, 2008 in Cities | New York | Transportation
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