What makes a public place great? A good start is to ask Project for Public Spaces, a leading nonprofit that documents public places for a living. Below is their four-point criteria, with a CoolTown slant to it:
– “Accessible and well-connected to other important places in the area.” The best public places are at the center, like the Italian piazzas or town/neighborhood squares, where the ‘important places’ and access points (ie mass transit) usually are. The other advantage to having a focus on the center is that neighbors are less likely to complain about noise and crowds (ie streetlife).
– “It’s comfortable and projects a good image“. There’s a difference between being clean and sterile. There should be no litter on the streets, but unfinished walls and old buildings add some needed history and character. If women are attracted to the place, men will follow, but not vice versa.
– “It has activities that draw many people.” Concerts, happy hours/organized bar crawls, trivia night, cinemas, theatre and dining under the stars. A good public place is a stage where you are the performer.
– “It is a sociable place where people like to meet; a large third place.” This is the litmus test to see if the previous elements are there – people will return again and again if they are, which in turn attracts others.