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The Best Theater in Town is on Our Street Corners

POPSOn August 15th, MAS hosted an at-capacity crowd for an indoor-outdoor screening of William “Holly” Whyte’s planning classic “The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces“.  A perfect summer evening and tremendous showing of MAS members, friends and family, heightened demand for a double-header screening of the film, with a simulcast at the Brighton indoor theater and outdoors in the open-air plaza, and showings at both 6:30pm and 8:00pm. MAS tour guide, architectural historian and author, Francis Morrone delivered the introductory remarks to the film.  The evening was hosted in collaboration with Hester Street Nights, an outdoor night market with curated food stalls every Thursday evening at the Eventi Plaza, a privately-owned open-air through-block plaza on Sixth Avenue between 29th and 30th Streets.  We couldn’t ask for a more perfect setup to highlight MAS’s ongoing advocacy work to activate, improve and catalogue New York City’s inventory of Privately Owned Public Spaces, all featured on our newly launched highly-interactive website, apops.mas.org. Visitors to the website will find information about the city’s inventory of 525 or so privately owned public spaces, through geo-coded maps, search capability by keywords, addresses, neighborhoods, and required amenities, photographs, site plans, and profiles about specific POPS. The website delivers general and specific information about POPS, their sizes and locations, the hours during which they are required to be open, who designed them, who uses them, how usable they are, and their amenities, such as seating, food service, restrooms, and artwork, required by law. The evening also launched a call for our MAS members and the broader public to help by contributing to the website. We invite YOU – members of the MAS community – and public space advocates to collaborate in creating POPS knowledge for the benefit of everyone.  The website is a platform that enables you to contribute your ideas about a particular POPS or about POPS in general.  You can comment about a specific POPS.  You can report a problem such as a space that is closed when it should be open.  You can rate a POPS with five stars for excellent, one star for poor.  You can add to our collection of photographs.  You can write a profile, as opinionated as you want to be, about a POPS.   You can even propose a (re)design of an existing or new POPS and, just maybe, the owner will notice. If we take away anything from the screening of William Whyte’s much-loved classic film, it is that we are all, all of us, highly attuned experts on Public Space.  As Holly Whyte put it: “If there is a lesson in street-watching it is that people do like basics – and as environments go, a street that is open to the sky and filled with people and life is a splendid place to be.”