The National Trust for Historic Preservation and Project for Public Spaces (PPS) partnered to enrich towns and cities across the country through the power of Placemaking. This collaboration unites two powerhouse community development strategies – the National Trust Main Street Four-Point Approach®, a proven tool and foundation for revitalizing commercial and neighborhood districts, and Project for Public Spaces’ Placemaking.
At the center of the partnership is an effort to expose new communities and practitioner to the core principles of Placemaking, a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces – including streets and transportation facilities. Put simply, it involves looking at, listening to, and asking questions of the people who live, work and play in a particular space, to discover their needs and aspirations. This information is then used to create a common vision for that place. The vision can evolve quickly into an implementation strategy, beginning with small-scale, do-able improvements that can immediately bring benefits to public spaces and the people who use them. Placemaking capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, ultimately creating good public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well-being.
For most of human history, streets served as public spaces where crucial social and economic exchanges took place. That changed dramatically over the last 70 years, as planning policies favored cars over people–a huge loss since streets can take up as much as one-third of a community’s land. Ironically, this single-minded pursuit of creating efficiency for the automobile has also failed to successfully address transportation issues. PPS has long said, “If you plan cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you get people and places.”
Placemaking is part of a new movement to look at transportation in the broader context of communities. Downtown streets can become destinations worth visiting, not just thruways to and from the workplace. Transit stops and stations can make commuting by rail or bus a pleasurable. Neighborhood streets can be places where parents feel safe letting their children play, and commercial strips can be designed as grand boulevards, safe for walking and cycling and allowing for both through and local traffic.
See PPS's Citizen's Guide to Better Streets for more information