By International Sustainability Institute
Have you recently stumbled into a Pioneer Square alley to surprisingly find an art installation, hanging flower baskets or even an event? Pioneer Square’s alleys continue to be rediscovered by locals and tourists alike. The International Sustainability Institute, a not-for-profit organization based in Pioneer Square, has been leading an effort with countless neighbors, businesses, colleagues and community groups to transform Pioneer Square’s alleys into one of its unrivaled assets.
Why Alleys? Alleys offer the opportunity for Pioneer Square to boost healthy activity on its streets, feed its vibrant arts culture, and draw people to local businesses. Besides, they’re also great walking paths. The scale of the buildings, narrow alley passageways and architecture make Pioneer Square’s alleys visually alluring and a place of discovery. A study conducted by Copenhagen-based Gehl Architects, considered world-leaders at placemaking, identified Seattle alleys as having the potential to be great pedestrian spaces.
Neighborhood residents and businesses also recognize the potential. Since the first Nord Alley party in 2008, numerous alley activation efforts have sprouted up in Pioneer Square. Nord Alley has held nearly 100 events with more than 5,000 people in attendance.Thanks to the many partners and sponsors, the Nord Alley featured the Tour d’Alley this past July, a 3-week viewing of the Tour de France at lunchtime. This free viewing open to the public attracted hundreds of people, and many came day after day.
By leveraging funds from government, private foundations, and local businesses and tying together a wide variety of people-public space experts, community organizers, marketing professionals and students-Pioneer Square is working together to create great public spaces. If you live or work on a block in Pioneer Square and are eager to activate your alley, we encourage you to meet your neighbors and explore ideas. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to get involved.
Photo Credits – Top: Jordan Lewis; Bottom: Constance Brinkley