‘Open Streets’ Events Expanding to More Boston Neighborhoods This Summer

Crowds walk down the middle of a car-free Newbury Street among vendors' tents, umbrellas for outdoor dining, and people lounging in lawn chairs during one of the city's popular Open Streets events.
Crowds fill Newbury Street in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood during one of the city's popular Open Streets events. Courtesy of the City of Boston.

After a hiatus for the pandemic, the City of Boston will restart its popular day-long “Open Streets” festivals this summer, and bring them to more neighborhoods throughout the city.

“I am very excited to share, finally, something that I have been holding in every time I’ve been in front of a camera,” said a smiling Mayor Michelle Wu at a press event this afternoon at the Mary E. Curley School in Jamaica Plain. “We’re going to do open streets!”

“We’re going to make sure that we have a safe, active, healthy summer that really brings people together and shows just what happens when we make the most use of our public spaces for people, for business, for activity,” she added.

The three events will take place in different parts of the city and will close off sections of the streets to cars from 9am to 3pm. In place of traffic, the city will bring in live music, performances and activities “to create and reclaim space for residents to celebrate summer.“

Here’s when and where you can attend the planned festivities:

  • Sunday July 10th: Centre Street in Jamaica Plain, from Jackson Square to the monument at the intersection of South Street
  • Saturday August 6th: Blue Hill Avenue in Roxbury, from Dudley Street to Warren Street
  • Saturday September 24: Dorchester Avenue, from Freeport Street to Gallivan Boulevard (2 full miles)

The popular Open Newbury events will also return this summer on multiple dates, which have yet to be determined.

In an effort to create more opportunities for connection, the City will also be piloting another similar initiative which they’re calling Copley Connect.

The block between Copley Square Park and the Boston Public Library will be closed off to cars from Tuesday, June 7th to Friday, June 17th to study the impacts of closing Dartmouth Street to motor vehicle traffic between Boylston Street and St James Avenue.

“There will be programming from the library, performances, food trucks, and activities for youth and families,” said Mayor Wu.

Just last month, the city released a new design for Copley Square which would add trees, accessible seating, and pathways.

Improving the connection across Dartmouth Street to the Boston Public Library was a goal of the project, but last month’s draft design (illustrated below) didn’t appear to show any modifications to the surrounding streets.

A bird's-eye illustration of the City of Boston's planned design for Copley Square. A large paved plaza for events and gatherings dominates the western end of the park along Dartmouth Street, while a new grove of trees would provide shade near Boylston Street and the existing fountain, which would remain. A smaller grass lawn would front the entrance of Trinity Church on the southeastern corner of the plaza.
The City of Boston’s planned design for a project to revitalize Copley Square in Back Bay. Courtesy of Sasaki.

Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Chief of Streets also spoke to highlight the role streets play beyond just moving cars.

“Long before the advent of cars in cities, streets served multiple roles – for transportation, but also as space for commerce, places for play, and spaces where people could connect with their neighbors in their communities. These events help us experience the many different ways that streets can serve our neighborhoods,” said Franklin-Hodge.”

‘Copley Connect’ Expands a Signature Boston Public Space By Kicking Out the Cars

He assured the crowd the City is working closely with other departments and the MBTA to ensure people’s safety as they attend these Open Street events.

Warren Williams, Executive Director of Jamaica Plain’s Three Squares Main Street organization,  helped wrap up the press conference with an emphatic statement highlighting the connection between opening up our streets for people and supporting local businesses.

“This is about community, this is about bridging the gap, this is about opening the door so people can see what businesses are out there and actually patronize them,” said Williams. “Turning this into a pedestrian walkway for even one day, shake the hands from neighbor to neighbor to come out and actually support their businesses, get to know their businesses, get to know the business owners… this is a celebration! Because the kick off is here and that means we’re celebrating JP as we celebrate the City of Boston.”


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