Better Block

May 15th-17th, 2015
In the spring of 2015, Team Better Block partnered with The Knight Foundation and over a dozen community leaders and organizations for the inaugural Akron Better Block. The project built on North Hill’s unique identity to enliven the neighborhood and acted as a training session for residents to learn Better Block’s rapid revitalization techniques.

Akron Better Block took place in the North Hill neighborhood on N Main Street, a wide, intimidating four-lane thoroughfare that was created to quickly move cars from Downtown to the suburbs. Better Block worked to reduce the scale of the street to allow for human activity, and encouraged local entrepreneurs to test out their business ideas in the vacant storefronts for the weekend. The Akron Better Block team filled the gaps made by parking lots and demolished buildings by creating pedestrian plazas and fields for sports, yoga, and ping pong. For one weekend at least, N Main Street realized its potential as a thriving, economically viable block.

Thanks to activities, programs, and the creation of a public space, the number of people on the block increased exponentially. There were people dancing, sitting, walking and shopping throughout the weekend, whereas only a handful of pedestrians were witnessed on the block in the weeks and days prior to the event.
Because of the event, average northbound traffic speeds decreased from 29.6 mph to 13.4 mph, and southbound traffic speeds decreased from 28.9mph to 16 mph.

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