Environmental Quality / 2013
Kids Play at Pershing Square
The Pershing Square Park Advisory Board (PAB) is seeking funding for the design, planning and installation of a playground in Pershing Square Park in Downtown Los Angeles. Pershing Square is a City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks outdoor concert and event center which serves the community as a recreation center. With the addition of a playground at Pershing Square the community can continue to meet the growing needs of its youngest residents. Playgrounds provide crucial and vital opportunities for children to play. There is substantial research showing the clear link between play and brain development, motor-skills, and social capabilities. All learning—emotional, social, motor and cognitive—is accelerated, facilitated, and fueled by the pleasure of play. Playgrounds that promote different types of play are vital for a child’s cognitive, emotional, physical, and social development. Playgrounds provide a safe environment designed specifically to foster and enhance the opportunities for a child to play alone, with a caregiver, or with other children. Given the importance of play in the development of a child, any space which gives a child free reign to do just that should be seen a crucial component in a child’s life and in the continued growth and development of one’s community. Quite simply, the addition of a playground to Pershing Square will improve the quality of life for the downtown community.
What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?
PERSHING SQUARE DOWNTOWN STAGE The 40’ X 20’ Pershing Square Downtown Stage is a performance space which presents free concerts available for local artists and is the venue for the Park’s Friday Night Flicks, the Summer Concert Series.
SUMMER CONCERT SERIES Pershing Square’s Downtown Stage is a unique outdoor concert and event center, operated by the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. Located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, the venue hosts a free summer concert series for six weeks with entertainment four days a week, featuring a variety of music with local, national and international artists. The program runs July through August, Thursday through Sunday. The Downtown Stage has become a premier summer concert venue with state of the art lighting and sound systems. The Downtown Stage provides a great opportunity to music fans by providing great talent for free and allowing both artists and sponsors the opportunity to give back to community.
FRIDAY NIGHT FLICKS Each spring, summer and fall over 25 free movies are shown at Pershing Square every Friday night from May through October. Patrons are encouraged to pack a picnic, bring a blanket or lawn chair and watch movies in Pershing Square Park. Films are shown on a 20’ foot inflatable screen.
FARMERS MARKET The Farmers Market includes over 100 booths offering a variety of fresh, local produce and food offerings every Wednesday from 7:00am to 2:00pm. Specialty items such as jewelry and clothing are also available for purchase. The market allows the community another opportunity to meet friends and neighbors at Pershing Square. It also extends a welcome atmosphere to our farming community in other parts of Los Angeles.
FREE MOBILE YOUTH AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMMING AND SUMMER CAMP Pershing Square Mobile Youth Team takes programming to underserved youth at pocket parks throughout the City. Recreation and Parks staff works out of City vans stuffed with games, toys, arts & crafts and sports equipment and coordinates fun after school leisure activities and providing homework help. This spring, Mobile Youth will be hosting it annual Extravaganza Spring Egg Hunt at Pershing Square. The event will host free arts and crafts, inflatables, age appropriate egg hunts. The mobile youth team serves over 100 children a week in the after school program. The day camp provides summer fun for 100 children a day. Youth events at Pershing Square number close to 1000 per event.
THE ART SQUARED GALLERY The Art Squared Gallery begins its fifth season in May 2013. The gallery is an exhibition space which hosts artists from the downtown LA area and the extended Southland art community. The Gallery’s shows run year around.
Ur-BIN GARDEN PROGRAM In June of 2012, The Downtown Los Angeles Ur-Bin Garden Network installed phase one of a beautification program in Pershing Square in the form of a vertical garden on several west facing walls along the Northeast perimeter of the park.
Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.
• City of Los Angeles, Department of Recreation and Parks • Office of City Councilmember Jose Huizar, City of Los Angeles Council District 14 • Downtown Stakeholders • Additional funding organizations – The PAB is raising 100% of the funds from both public and private sources
Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?
We measure all of our programs by quality, not by quantity. It’s not how large of an audience or how much of an end result that is important, not how many people are affected, but rather the quality of the effect. We are successful by insuring a safe, comfortable, positive experience for our community. We are successful when our neighbors’ children interact with each other and invite their families and friends to join.
How will your project benefit Los Angeles?
The PAB wants to establish a place for kids to be outdoors, dream, play and learn to work with others. So whether kids are playing on the playground swings at recess, or having friends over to swing on their own swing sets, it’s more than playtime; it’s a time to grow. A playground is a wonderful place for children to release stress. Swinging, jumping, climbing and running are good for children both physically and emotionally. Taking time away from structured activity is an important part of keeping a child well-rounded and healthy. A playground is not just a playground. It’s a place for kids to dream, relax and learn to work with others. By nurturing our children in this way, we help create a healthier community.
Downtown Los Angeles has a changing demographic with 50,000 new residents and a growing number of children. Currently, here is no playground for them to play, dream and learn. We want to fill that void.
What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?
If we were able to transport to the realization of our vision of Pershing Square in 2050, we would find a reestablishment of the “Living Room” of Downtown Los Angeles. In the mid 1800’s, the park was the center of family life and provided the local residents with a social gathering place of shaded walks and topical foliage, a community retreat. In the next decades as the city expanded, and its population center relocated, Pershing Square worked to establish a representation of its growth, and supported the incorporation of structural modifications designed to attract visitors to our growing city. After several reincarnations executed by creative work by the Department, and with strong support from the business community, it was resolved to reestablish the original dream to make Pershing Square once again the jewel of the downtown core, and offer the best of space to local residents, venue visitors, and tourists. Pershing Square’s South and Southwest kiosks will be children’s play areas serving the residential families in Downtown, South and East LA. This common area for children and their parents will provide a friendly oasis for family fun. The current Pershing Square cafe will transition to a full service restaurant to provide a social gathering stop to tourists and the community.
Across from the cafe, the “Art Squared Gallery” will provide a changing platform for the works of local and international artists, and provide a cultural exhibit of our beautiful city’s artistic contributions.
On the Northwest kiosk, chess and checker games boards will be available for leisure game activity, as well as programmed tournament activity.
The Northeast side of the Square will have an extended urban wall garden curated by the Pershing Square staff and community members. Jasmine roses, and other native flowers and plants will enhance the ambiance of the area and highlight the public perception of LA’s intrinsic natural environment.
Our tradition of free summer concerts will continue, with the performances presented on a world class iconic stage. The new structure will incorporate cutting edge lighting and sound equipment which will enable the City to attract high level artists and performers as well as loyal patrons of the venue.
“Downtown On Ice”, the outdoor ice skating rink at Pershing Square, will expand to accommodate twice the number of participants. Both the Summer stage and Winter ice rink will have established our new Pershing Square as an outstanding Los Angeles entertainment destination.
All of the above projections will enhance the quality of life for the Los Angeles population. Further it will optimize the City’s image to international visitors and diplomatic guests.
The children and grandchildren of the kids using the playground today would still be enjoying this wonderful part of the park.