Starting in 2005, Hester Street (HST) led the effort to reclaim the Allen and Pike Street Pedestrian Malls as viable public space for the Lower East Side. HST advocated for capital funding to renovate the corridor, and engaged community members in a participatory design process to generate design recommendations for the malls. As a result of these efforts, many community priorities were successfully integrated into the design of the malls – including safer pedestrian crossings and protected bike paths. Because only a portion of the Allen & Pike Street Malls renovation has been completed, HST has continued to advocate for their full renovation by using public art installations to activate and draw people to the Malls. Engagement activities and the participatory design process used at Allen and Pike Street became a formative case study for the development of the People Make Parks toolkit.
Allen & Pike Street public art projects:
Avenue of the Immigrants, 2006-2008
The Avenue of the Immigrants installation honors the co-naming of Allen Street as “The Avenue of the Immigrants,” and celebrates a broad range of immigrants, artists, activists, events, and buildings that have contributed to the rich cultural history and diversity of the Lower East Side. This site-specific installation promoted intergenerational collaboration between local residents, cultural organizations, and public school students. HST worked with the UNRAP (United Neighborhoods to Revitalize Allen and Pike) Coalition and students from M.S. 131 for two years. Ultimately the project is designed to strengthen the community led effort to reclaim and revitalize the Allen and Pike Street corridors and advocate for preservation of the Lower East Side’s diverse communities.
Mall-terations is a collaboration of 4 artists: Carolina Cisneros, Marcelo Ertoteguy, Mateo Pintó, and Sara Valente. Through a series of five “compass” benches that rotate around maps and way-finding information of the Lower East Side, the project evokes the history of the Allen Street corridor and elevated railway that was once there. The benches are constructed out of reclaimed railroad ties and car tires, and timelines of the history of immigration waves to the Lower East side are depicted through a “track” connecting the bench locations.