Popup parks bring greenspace to Main Street

Passers-by play a balance game at the the Roots of Balance Park by Cameron Hooyer (MDD Student Contingent) . Photo by Isaac Riddle.
Passers-by play a balance game at the the Roots of Balance Park by Cameron Hooyer (MDD Student Contingent). Photo by Isaac Riddle.

*This post has been updated

For the next five weeks one of Salt Lake’s most engaging streets will be even more vibrant.  The Downtown Alliance has again partnered with Salt Lake City leaders for the second annual Downtown Garden Stroll, a selection of artist-designed popup parks lining Main Street sidewalks between South Temple and 300 South.

According to Ryan Mack of the Downtown Alliance, artists were awarded a $3,500 grant to design and build a park with a floral/garden theme on a 8 foot by 20 foot platform that “incorporates landscaping and seating along with elements of art, playfulness and fun.”

The Downtown Garden Stroll officially opened on Friday April 1 with live music at the different park locations.  The event opening coincides with LDS General Conference weekend, a biannual conference that brings around 125,000 visitors to Temple Square just north of the popup gardens.

According to Kristin Beck, the director of urban activation for the Downtown Alliance, the purpose of the parks is to maintain vibrancy along Main Street while encouraging conference goers to explore more of downtown.

“We want to create a pleasant place to linger downtown,” said Beck.

Like the Sugarmont Plaza and Granary Row projects, the Downtown Gallery Stroll reflects a growing local embrace of tactical urbanism (short term intervention of urban space used to encourage change).

Many of the popup parks are in proximity to wifi hotspots and the participants are encouraged to tweet selfies with the #GardenStrollSLC hashtag to win a prize.  The garden stroll was funded by the Downtown Alliance, the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake, Salt Lake City Council, Salt Lake City Arts Council and the Utah Division of Arts & Museums.  The event runs until Mother’s Day on May 8th.

Keir Lee-Barber adds the finishing touches to his Upcycled Urban Garden. Lee-Barber uses repurposed materials and native plants to bring attention Utah's plant diversity. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
Keir Lee-Barber adds the finishing touches to his Upcycled Urban Garden. Lee-Barber uses repurposed materials and native plants to bring attention Utah’s plant diversity. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The Roots of Balance Park by Cameron Hooyer (MDD Student Contingent). Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The Roots of Balance Park by Cameron Hooyer (MDD Student Contingent). Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The Urban Growth park by Stephen Stewart, Benjamin Knudsen, Richard Bingham (Planted Studios). Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The Urban Growth park by Stephen Stewart, Benjamin Knudsen, Richard Bingham (Planted Studios). Photo by Isaac Riddle.

Posted by Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at isaac@buildingsaltlake.com.