The Importance of Urban Public Spaces for Assembly
I’ve been feeling inspired by the Occupy Atlanta movement happening in Woodruff Park, a block away from my building. I’m glad that we have a public space for assembly like this park in a highly visible part of downtown Atlanta.
Thinking about the importance of public spaces in cities as points of assembly for protest — I’m reminded of a post called Liberation Squares by Vishaan Chakrabarti, published in Urban Omnibus earlier this year.
Public spaces like Tompkins Square, Tiananmen Square and Tahrir Square have been stages for history because they provide the loci for urban gathering, particularly for a city’s youth. After all, if the revolution is to be televised, from where else would it be broadcast?
…And perhaps this is the primary lesson about public space. That beyond our day-to-day needs for it be clean, amenable, and safe, it also has to allow for the expression of instability, for the expression of a world ever in need of change.
In the car-dependent, suburban environment, there are no places like Woodruff Park that offer public spaces with visibility for protests. The only open spaces around high-traffic areas in the sprawlburbs are privately-owned parking lots. At least the cars have a place to assemble
Photo by Curtis Compton, AJC