A neighborhood square, a civic square and a night time destination.
A destination for locals as well as tourists, this square is a comfortable place to spend a few hours during daytime or night. Have a drink and eat some delicious olives at one of the many cafes that surrounds it, while watching children run through the plaza playing pick-up soccer games.
It is near the center of the city and a place many tourists or walkers are likely to happen upon. The streets have been aggressively downsized with only narrow channels traffic to move slowly through the space, allowing cars and people to coexist comfortably. Parking has been added beneath the square.
Comfortable to walk into from surrounding traffic calmed streets, the square is probably the best oasis downtown between Parque Retiro and the Prado. Copious amenities and trees surround a promenade that invites pedestrian in to the center. It is the active and accessible edges though that most contribute to the image of the square and the high level of ambience. The only downside is a lack of comfortable seating that doesn't require buying food or drink.
A theater, hotel and many great restaurants surround and spill out onto the square. Two playgrounds for kids of different ages blend seamlessly into the square (the fences have recently been removed), allowing parents to sit at the cafes while kids play in the playgrounds. If you're lucky, you'll happen upon a pick-up kids' soccer game taking place in the middle of the square.
While the restaurants here may draw a strong tourist contingent, there are still plenty of users from the neighborhood and downtown business community. Parents with children, local business people, young people, and tourists can all be found here.
*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.
Many great public spaces have grown out of communities resisting development. It is the evolution from opposition to proactive visioning - helping to create, finance, and manage public spaces - that often makes the opposition successful. Congress Square, and the community around it, are forging this story of transformation.
Mayor Bill de Blasio caused quite a stir around New York City yesterday as he floated the idea of tearing up the pedestrian plaza in Times Square. This statement was the culmination of several days of debate centered around predatory panhandling and the square’s growing number of “street performers.”