Investigating the Effect of Public Spaces on Cities

Another challenge facing city officials today is the struggle of making use of ineffective public spaces. In urban areas, public space is widely thought of as well-maintained parks and sidewalks. However, other areas such as staircases, alleys, and informal parking lots are also important public spaces. Society tends to overlook these places because they are often nestled between private establishments, giving the illusion of belonging to private institutions. This causes public spaces to become run-down and substandard in comparison. For this reason, these spaces are viewed as an essential building block to creating a safe, healthy city (Project for Public Spaces, Inc., 2012).

Revitalization projects across the globe are attempting to rejuvenate public areas and harness a sense of community. One goal is to help establish a shared identity for street people to be a part of through the development of these public areas (Project for Public Spaces, Inc. 2012). Such projects are taking pace in Detroit, Nairobi, and Mexico.

In Detroit, rebuilding projects involving food vendors and other commodities on sidewalks and parking lots have brought together people impacted by the downturn of the US economy, forming a more cohesive community. In Nairobi and Mexico, lack of infrastructure has motivated revitalization projects. In Nairobi, a soccer field, similar in size to the Canterbury Lot, was “run-down, polluted and a magnet for crime” (Project for Public Spaces Inc. year).  The government leveled the field, making it fit to play on, improved the drainage system, and started programming the space with concerts and other events (Project for Public Spaces, Inc. 2012).  The rejuvenation effort gave the community a functional gathering space while simultaneously improving the city’s infrastructure. In Mexico, new urban development projects by the government recently improved the infrastructure of many major cities to aid in the social community development and in bringing people together. At the sites of the recently completed projects, Mexican officials are promoting, organizing and engaging in community events. Mexico, Nairobi and Detroit are just some examples of how renovating public spaces have had positive effects on their respective communities.




Project for Public Spaces, Inc. (2012, September 1). Placemaking and the Future of Cities. Retrieved from