PARK(ing) Day: A Brief History

PARK(ing) Day: A Brief History

How did PARK(ing) Day come to be you may ask? Well, let’s go back to 2005 in San Francisco to begin.

Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, decided to capitalise on the lack of public green space in the city by turning a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in downtown San Francisco. Feeding the meter for the limited two-hour slot, Rebar installed a patch of grass, a park bench, a tree and signs for passers-by to sit and relax, in order to make their statement. Since iconic images of this unique use for an urban context were captured, PARK(ing) Day has spawned into a global movement with both individuals and organisations creating their own temporary public spaces.

Picture of Rebar's first ever PARK(ing) Day
Underlying PARK(ing) Day is the concept of law. Paying a parking meter is seen as a way to access (temporary) ownership in cities where the means to acquire legal title is beyond the reach of many residents.

Rebar created a how-to manual with guidelines on how others can create their own public spaces out of existing urban-use space. Since 2005, PARK(ing) Day has been used to address a range of social issues in diverse contexts across the globe. Previous PARK(ing) day installations have included free health clinics, art and even street parties – all within metered parking spaces!

PARK in green letters

Whilst PARK(ing) Day has become a global phenomenon, even outliving Rebar, it is not the first of its kind. Precedents can be found in many cities over many years: from the installations on California roads by Bonnie Ora Sherk in the 1970s, to the Parking Meter Parties held in Hamilton, Ontario, from 2001, to Ted Dewan’s road witching in Oxford, UK, from 2003, to Michael Rakowitz’s 2004 (P)LOT projects in Vienna, Austria, and Trento, Italy.

As a day where the urban landscape can be reimagined and communities can come together to celebrate, we would like to wish you a very happy PARK(ing) Day!

Check out the manual here so you can create your own space! 


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