Urban sidewalks, critical but undervalued public spaces, have been sites for political demonstrations and urban greening, promenades for the wealthy and the well-dressed, and shelterless shelters for the homeless. On sidewalks, decade after decade, urbanites have socialized, paraded, and played, sold their wares, and observed city life. These many uses often overlap and conflict, and urban residents and planners try to include some and exclude others. In this first book-length analysis of the sidewalk as a distinct public space, Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris and Renia Ehrenfeucht examine the evolution of the American urban sidewalk and trace conflicts that have arisen over its competing uses. Drawing on historical and contemporary examples as well as case study research and archival data from five cities—Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and Seattle—they discuss the characteristics of sidewalks as small urban public spaces, and such related issues as the ambiguous boundaries of their “public” status, contestation over specific uses, control and regulations, and the implications for First Amendment speech and assembly rights.
About the Authors
Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris is Professor in the Department of Urban Planning and Associate Dean of the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA. Her books include Urban Design Downtown, Jobs and Economic Development in Minority Communities, Sidewalks: Conflict and Negotiation over Public Space (MIT Press), and Companion to Urban Design.
Renia Ehrenfeucht is Associate Professor in the Department of Planning and Urban Studies at the University of New Orleans.