Closing Downtown Street Brings New Life

Pratt Street is a brick thoroughfare in the heart of downtown Hartford, CT. For all its promise, Pratt Street long has been bereft of pedestrian traffic. When the mayor proposed closing the street to cars, downtown leaders countered that further reducing activity on the street was the wrong approach.

Instead, the Hartford Business Improvement District suggested a compromise: Close Pratt Street for just a few hours a day.

The Pratt Street Patio project was born — and it is a model for temporarily repurposing other public spaces, says Chip McCabe, director of placemaking and events at the Hartford BID.

Pratt Street closes for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, as tables and chairs take over. On Fridays, the narrow street shuts down from
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. to make time for evening dining and entertainment.

One Friday night event, Pratt Street Salsa Socials, taps into the large Hispanic population in Hartford.

“From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on a Friday night, this is one of the most inclusive events you’ll see in Hartford,” McCabe says.

More on the Pratt Street Patio, plus dealing with a bad reputation, and a new approach to pop-up retail, appears in the January issue of Downtown Idea Exchange. Click below to learn more about Downtown Idea Exchange and other resources for revitalizing downtowns and commercial corridors.

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