Jun 17, 2022 - News

Copley Square pop-up plaza breathes new life into Back Bay

A red food truck is stationed on a closed-off section of Dartmouth Street in front of Boston Public Library. Nearby are chairs and benches.

Great weather, food, what more could you ask for? Photo: Steph Solis/Axios

Steph here. I stopped by the pop-up pedestrian space on Copley Square earlier this week to see if people actually took advantage of the car-free street.

  • In the span of an hour, I found a drumming circle, backup dancers rollerblading for a music video and families playing Connect 4 on this strip of Dartmouth Street.

What's happening: The city has closed part of Dartmouth between Copley Square Park and the historic Boston Public Library for 10 days, as city officials study what a long-term street closure would look like.

  • As someone who doesn't drive much, I find the activity in the pop-up space refreshing, from people reading outside to salsa lessons, an NBA Finals watch party and Thursday's Donna Summer Disco Party, which celebrated the Grammy-winning Boston native.
  • The city plans to reopen Dartmouth to cars after Friday.

Yes, but: Closing down the street long-term also means motorists coming from the South End will have to find another way to get to the Back Bay.

Denzel Amoah, a graduate student at the Rhode Island School of Design, is working with city officials and his professor's firm, Providence-based Goode Landscape Studio, on the pilot program.

  • He told Axios some locals hate the idea of closing the street while others have told him they are "absolutely loving it and wanting to shut it down permanently."

The verdict: I'm on Team Shut It Down.

  • It won't be easy for motorists, but expanding public spaces and using them for community events will make Boston more attractive to the people who live and work here.
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