September 2, 2006

Pedestrian Piazza for North End’s Hanover Street?

Boston City Councilor Salvatore LaMattina wants to turn Hanover Street "into an Italian piazza, with strolling violinists, artist stalls and waiters with Valpolicella and espressos scurrying to customers at tables in the middle of the street," the Boston Globe reported today. LaMattina wants to  test the concept next spring and summer on weekends, and if it works, to then "seal off the street permanently and convert it to a public gathering place."

WHAT a GREAT IDEA! Many European cities large and small have such open, pedestrian-only public squares, and they really add to the enjoyment of being in a neighborhood.

Mayor Manino reportedly supports the proposal. Some business owners worry about the logistics, including whether upscale customers would balk at the demise of valet parking and needing to walk a few blocks from their cars, but I don't see why valet parking couldn't be stationed at extremely nearby side streets.

"Longtime resident and business owner, Joanne Prevost-Anzalone, said she would welcome the European ambience, and if the delivery concerns were worked out, she would have coffee on the piazza every day," the Globe said.

"It should have been done years ago, what he is talking about," resident Pasquale Giliberti told the Globe. "Why should people have to go to a foreign country (for a piazza)?"

Why indeed. Pedestrian-centered, well-designed urban places are one of the joys of travelling to Europe. How nice it would be to not only stroll along Hanover Street next summer, but sit in the piazza enjoying a sunny afternoon.


  1. In the summertime, festive crowds of strollers spill out into Hanover Street anyway. Banning cars is a next logical step. I'm not sure about the artists stalls and the strolling musicians. I think just making it safe and pleasant to walk the street would be reason enough to re-route cars.

  2. An excellent idea. Look at the experience with Downtown Crossing. It's been totally
    positive. I work in the area, and hang out on the street during lunch time. Delivery
    vehicles and emergency vehicles can still use the street, but don't seem to cause problems
    for pedestrians. I'm not sure how the valet parking at Locke-Ober works, but they seem to
    still be in business.

  3. I think it is a great idea, but getting to the North End, and PARKING, is a huge inconvenience, the valet parking is the only reason that makes us go there, to park a few blocks away in a 7 story garage and walk back and forth is something I may do on a beautiful summer day, but not a regular night. I am all for patio dining al-fresco!

  4. Interesting point, I admit I've never attempted to drive through the North End without going
    on Hanover Street. If the pedestrian piazza concept goes into effect, people would need
    guidance in finding the best valet or self-park locations. But perhaps the whole concept
    only makes sense during the warmer months.

  5. [...] With nothing much happening in the American League East this Fall, we’ve been turning our attention to Boston’s burgeoning Livable Street movement instead. Last year a fellow named Jeff Rosenblum founded an organization called the Livable Streets Alliance that is setting out to do work similar to that of New York City’s Transportation Alternatives. Jeff’s group appears to be doing a good job of moving the issues up on Boston’s civic agenda. Last week’s Boston Globe ran a story on a City Counci member’s efforts to transform a congested street in Little Italy into a pedestrian piazza and an op/ed arguing: [...]