Friday, August 28, 2009

First Look at Mason Street Plaza

It's taken way to long for me to finally get myself over to North Beach to see first hand what life is like there with one tiny block of Mason Street closed. Streetsblog had some great photos of the temporary plaza being installed at the beginning of the month, but I'd never seen it myself.

Similar temporary pedestrian spaces implemented under the city's Pavement to Parks program have been wildly popular in the communities that surround them. But I have to admit I was worried this plaza would become an exception to that experience after a reader left a couple comments indicating the situation in North Beach was bad.

Specifically worrying to me was his assertion
Come by any morning and you'll see a huddle of junkies and alcoholics who have a daily jamboree. -Karl B
Since this plaza was between a surface parking lot and a library, and not directly adjacent to cafes or other businesses that could participate in its upkeep, I was a little concerned that the plaza might be run down after only a month.

So I took Mr. B's advice and went down there this morning. Pics after the jump.

Instead of junkies huddling on the asphalt, I saw morning walkers strolling among the sizable potted maple trees. I saw kids playing on the logs that form an outdoor amphitheater for the library. And I saw tourists stopping to snap photos of the space before moving on to the famously crooked part of Lombard, just a couple blocks away.

I saw no evidence to support Karl B's assertion that the temporary closure was a hazard to pedestrians. In fact, I saw quite the opposite.

But he and I don't need to agree to disagree. The temporary closure is part of an ongoing traffic study that will gather empirical data about traffic patterns in that area and reveal any such impacts.

The Mason Street plaza will remain open to pedestrians until September 27th. Go down and see it for yourself if you haven't already.


Unknown said...

I live a couple of blocks away from here and love the new plaza. People need to relax just a bit I think.

Unknown said...

You must have arrived with your camera after the full time security guard had scooted the derelicts out of the space. Human housekeeping happens around 9:00 AM every morning. The security guard keeping things orderly is just part of the "park" illusion.

Given that the proposed library will be built over 1/2 of the "park" area with the narrow remainder in building shadows during the afternoon, and that this space will be cyclone fenced to restrict pedestrian use and to keep out undesirables all of this exhibit amounts to a big fake out.

If this was a good idea for my born and raised neighborhood I'd be the first to support it. The idea of permanently closing Mason Street is too damned dangerous to just be called idiotic.

Pedestrianist said...

There was no security guard present when I visited, but if he had been there earlier for 'human housekeeping' (barf) I don't see what the problem with that would be. We have police don't we?

Plans I've seen don't support your assertion that the new building will take up half the space (rather, five feet over the West curb is what I've seen) or that it will be fenced off.

If you have evidence to support those claims please show it to me, so that everyone can be more well-informed.

And, again, I see no evidence that anything about this closure is dangerous. Certainly not more dangerous than car traffic is.