Parklet … said just like it sounds: park-let.

And, like other words with the diminutive “-let” suffix …

booklet, piglet …

it means the miniature version of its root word, park.

So, parklet = tiny park.

The cool thing about parklets, though, is that they’re not just small-space parks (that’s more the territory of the parklet’s cousin, the pocket park). A parklet is more of a pop-up type of park that may just, well, pop up in unexpected urban places. Often, it’s little more than a spiffy sidewalk extension that provides a bit of greenery and/or sitting spaces for passersby.

Photo by San Francisco Planning Department via Flickr

“Parklets are intended for people,” says Wikipedia. “They offer a place to stop, to sit, and to rest while taking in the activities of the street. A parklet may be thought of as permanent, but must be designed for quick and easy removal for emergencies or other reasons such as snow removal without damage to the curb or street. As initially conceived, a parklet is always open to the public.”

In 2010, San Francisco began the world’s first parklet project—five pilot projects in four neighborhoods around the city—conceived by London-based designer Suzi Bolognese. This is one of the originals:

Photo by Salty Boatr via Wikimedia Commons

Since then, parklets have started popping up in cities around the world, like this lovely 2016 installation in Lodz, Poland:

Photo by Zorro 2212 via Wikimedia Commons

If your city needs a parklet or two, you might be just the gal to get them going. For ideas and how-to tips, turn your local planning department. But first, you might take a peek at Seattle’s handy Parklet Handbook, which details the application process as well as requirements for designing, permitting, building, and maintaining your parklet. It includes expected timelines for each phase of the project and estimated costs. You’ll also find tips for assembling a team and funding your parklet. The handbook is specific to Seattle, but it’ll help point you in the right direction.


Leave a comment 6 Comments

  1. Karlyne says:

    Now that’s a city plan any country girl could get behind!

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    These little city parks are a fantastic idea and make a huge difference in how our cities can look and function. Gainesville is undergoing a huge collaborative project to develop the land between the university and the downtown to make UF and Gainesville an eminent city. These little Parklets could make a perfect addition!

  3. calle says:

    Totally incongruent with my image of a park.

    Parks have grass, swings, slides, trails and picnic tables.

    We have never seen a park with patio seating areas.
    Guess I am so surprised by the name.

    Urban areas have parks, so why did they steal the name of a wide open area and transfer it to a “space” to play checkers, chess, read a paper, have a phone conversation off the beaten city sidewalk.

    Maybe I am a purist, but Yellow stone is a huge park, our small town park has trails, a creeks with a large bridge, Frisbee golf, swings, slides, a Girl Scout cabin and a wading area.

    A tartlet,yes, a piglet, and outlet yes, but I hope we do not have patio seating all over big cities and make children think these are parks.
    In fact we very seldom see children playing on their huge backyard play equipment.
    We drive through about 25 small towns every month.
    We seldom see anyone, and we drive at all different times of the day and night.
    Gas stations and fast food places have life. We have now driven this same route for almost 14 yrs.
    Stopped at a small town thrift store two weeks ago.
    Not a soul on the street.
    In the metro areas you see people waiting for the bus, or walking on occasion.

    Glad this article was posted as I had just discussed the “missing people” from towns and city streets just last week with one of our children.
    Now for the strange part, if I see a lone child walking or riding a bike, I almost fear for that child.

    We also drove 1600 miles in three days on back highways and saw few people walking.

    Wish I was a researcher as I would love to study this area.
    Guess my five garden rooms are “parklets” will share this with my spouse as it makes it sound more important. Ha ha ha

  4. Krista says:

    I like this idea! I think it helps bring beauty to the city life and helps draw people in. If I was given the choice between one of these parklets and a typical bench I would choose the parklet. It’s nice to find a little piece of nature even in our busy day to day life. It would even be nice to have one of these set up in my own backyard!

  5. Karlyne says:

    What part of the country are you driving through, calle?

  6. darlene ricotta says:

    Very nice, especially for an older Senior who enjoys parks but can’t get to a big one or walk as well.


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