The guidelines create new opportunities for activating public space across the city
BOSTON – Friday, December 21, 2018 – Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the release of the City of Boston’s Tactical Public Realm Guidelines, a project included in Go Boston 2030. The guidelines outline easy-to-install and low-cost design suggestions on how to reclaim surplus roadway space in the city’s neighborhoods for people-focused uses such as plazas, parklets, outdoor cafes, and street murals.

“We’ve heard from residents and local businesses in our neighborhoods that a vibrant public realm is a crucial part of what brings communities together,” said Mayor Walsh. “It’s our goal in the coming years to enhance the streets, sidewalks, and public spaces in every neighborhood in Boston to be safer but also more enjoyable. These guidelines will go a long way to helping achieve that goal.”

The Tactical Public Realm Guidelines focus on making “tactical” placemaking more accessible for all our neighborhoods, creating more nimble and standardized processes for the creation of plazas, parklets, outdoor cafes, and street murals along Boston’s streets and sidewalks. These new processes for tactical public realm improvements add to the City’s toolkit for public space development and management and will continue to evolve in the coming years in collaboration with the Boston Transportation Department, Public Works Department, Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, Arts and Culture Cabinet, and other city agencies.

“At least 56 percent of city-owned land is our streets and sidewalks and these guidelines will help us leverage that space to improve people’s lives in addition to helping them get around the city,” said Chief of Streets, Transportation and Sanitation Chris Osgood. “We look forward to engaging with community members to find ideal locations for temporary and semi-permanent transformations of city streets.”

“The Guidelines will be an invaluable tool as we work with residents to develop additional public realm projects,” said Boston Transportation Commissioner Gina N. Fiandaca. “We’re delighted with the Tontine Crescent and look forward to similarly transforming other underutilized space at locations throughout the City.”

Projects underway to improve the City’s public realm include the Tontine Crescent Plaza in Downtown Crossing, the Phillips Square Plaza in Chinatown, parklets in various neighborhoods, and the Elmhurst St Mural in Dorchester. To manage the implementation of these projects, the City hired Jacob Wessel as public realm director to oversee outreach, design and installation of these enhancements. Wessel was previously the Director of City Hall to Go and organizer of the Open Newbury Street series.

Created in collaboration with A Better City and the Barr Foundation, the guidelines advance the effort to make our streets not only more functional, but more enjoyable, solidifying years of experimentation by the City using new interventions, materials, and designs tested with community partners.

“We learned throughout the Go Boston 2030 process that people’s travel experiences matter,” said Mary Skelton-Roberts, co-Director of Climate for the Barr Foundation. “During our commutes, we want to see interesting things, experience fun places, and be surprised along the way. Public realms do that. They take us from pain point to bright spot in our day. Better transportation makes everything better. It’s our move. Let’s make it happen.”

“A Better City enjoyed working with the City of Boston and Barr Foundation in advancing design and planning strategies to enhance Boston’s public realm,” said Rick Dimino, Chair of A Better City. “We hope ultimately that this effort will lead to more vibrant streets that strengthen social capital and celebrate human scale.”

More information about the Tactical Public Realm Guidelines and the city’s larger framework of public realm strategy and projects can be found at All those interested in developing a project in their neighborhood are encouraged to fill out the interest form on

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s