Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design


The York Boulevard Parklet in Progress

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

I was early for the York Boulevard parklet opening. In fact, one whole day earlier. "The opening is tomorrow,"  Cathi Milligan, owner of the Glass Studio told me. I took heart knowing that she says I wasn't the only one to be so mistaken. In hindsight, it was also a blessing in disguise; it gave me an opportunity to take a look at the parklet taking shape without the usual throng of people.

As the name implies, the parklet is a micro park designed to add life to the streets. Often incorporating seating and a safe place to stop and linger, the parklet allows pedestrians to rediscover the joys of watching their neighborhood go about its business.

This particular parklet is set on the main drag of Highland Park, York Boulevard. Twenty feet long by six feet wide, the York Boulevard parklet covers not much more than a parking space, but it made use of all that it got. Wooden planks added warmth to the space while curvy concrete seats add some style.

The best part of the parklet for me were the colored glass tiles that decorated the main seating and the additional "stool" seating in the middle. That detail is what captures the community's spirit.

Bright, bold and colorful, the tiles trace out playful patterns that are a delight to any passers-by. (I know I stopped to take lot of pictures.) A closer inspection of the design shows that "community" was a big theme that played into the design.

Fun tiles representing the York Boulevard residents and small businesses could be found. Here, a tile showing the Mayor of York Boulevard's son. There, a silhouette of a measuring tape. And there, an Instagram-style photo. Eastsider LA says some of the tiles depict scenes from "Reservoir Dogs," which was filmed in Highland Park.

While Cathi and Zoey (an artist helping out with the project) were adding tiles to the seating, I saw neighbors honk their horns in greeting or stop by and chat. Even Frank Vuoso of the LA Conservation Corps and Carlos (his young assistant) took time to update me on how the project is going. Unlike the cool, reserve of most anonymous city projects, I could tell the whole neighborhood was happy to get an extra place to hang out.

Small as that parklet is, it wasn't easy getting it all together. The process, outlined in this article, took years of planning and a lot of community input. It was a project well-conceived and obviously loved, which is why in a few hours, I expect to hear a lot of rave reviews.


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