In cities throughout the country, Friday was Park(ing) Day.
It's an idea that started in San Francisco, which creates mini-parks using metered parking spaces on streets.
The idea has spread to Chicago, where two mini-parks could be found Friday in Lakeview, along with one in Logan Square and two near the University of Illinois Chicago campus.
Organizers from green design firms converted metered parking spots into greenspace by laying down sod and installing plants and temporary seating. Residents could be seen relaxing on lawn chairs, strumming guitars, and reading books in the street.
One of these mini-parks was on the 3500 block of North Southport Avenue in the Lakeview neighborhood. To get around the "2-hour maximum" rule imposed by Chicago Parking Meters, LLC, a different person paid for the metered spot every two hours, allowing the mini-park to remain there until well into the afternoon.
"No one's given us a problem. This is our third year and we've gotten nothing but support," said Matt Nardella, a Principal Architect with Moss, a green architectural firm. "A need for more open space is what we're trying to highlight. We think it's a great way to show what you can do with this public space that belongs to all Chicagoans, instead of merely parking cars in it."
The first year National Park(ing) Day hit Chicago was the year the hated parking meter privatization deal went through.
"We felt like this was space that belonged to us and we ended up selling it to a private company that doesn't have a vested interested in the beautification of the space," Nardella said.