Sunnyside Piazza

SE 33rd & Yamhill Streets
Portland, OR

Submitted by: Daniel Lerch

A street intersection that was turned into a community gathering place by residents.

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Why It Works

Sunnyside Piazza is an inner Portland street intersection that surrounding neighbors converted into a community gathering place in September 2001. Working with the non-profit organization The City Repair Project, the residents of Sunnyside neighborhood designed their piazza, raised money for materials, and installed it themselves in accordance with a city ordinance that allows any Portland neighborhood to do such a project. The Piazza includes a giant street mural based on the image of a sunflower, as well as a community kiosk and an art wall created with natural building techniques by residents and local artists.

What Makes Sunnyside Piazza a Great Place?

In creating Sunnyside Piazza, the street intersection was not blocked to cars - all users can enjoy the beautified street surface. It is situated one block from the cafes and restaurants of Portland's popular SE Belmont Street corridor.

Neighborhood residents installed Sunnyside Piazza to create a better sense of place in their neighborhood. In addition to beautifying their neighborhood, they also wanted to reduce crime by focusing more attention on the street, and express the local culture of the Sunnyside community, which they did by creating the design themselves.

For the population density of the area, the Piazza definitely attracts people. Neighbors walking to and from Belmont seem to purposely route through the Piazza, perhaps to visit the kiosk, run into friends, or simply to enjoy its beauty. Two or three times a year the neighbors close off the intersection to cars for a Block Party. When the Piazza is not closed off, pedestrians tend to stay out of the street despite the street mural although once in a while you do see people standing in the middle, a cyclist making a few extra loops, or children enjoying the color in the street. One long-term vision for the intersection is for it to be raised to the level of the sidewalks with bricks and pavers, thus making it more of a pedestrian space.

One often sees small groups of people looking at the kiosk or admiring the art wall during the day. Visitors to Belmont Street also swing by the Piazza to admire it.

History & Background

A similar Piazza is in Portland's Sellwood neighborhood, at SE 9th & Sherrett Streets. It is called "Share-It Square," and was the first project of this kind in Portland. Creation of Share-It Square led to City adoption of the ordinance that allowed Sunnyside Piazza to be created.

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