The streets came alive on April 13th, 2013 as thousands of people flooded 1st Street to partake in the inaugural Feast on the Street, hosted by Arizona State University’s Art Museum and Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation. The idea was simple – bring together the community by hosting a dinner on 1st Street. The goal was to turn 1st Street into a pedestrian promenade, similar to the Long Beach Pedestrian Promenade, for a single day. The event put over half a mile of tables together, spanning from ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus to Roosevelt Street. Needless to say, the event was a success, attracting people from all over the metro area.
This method of temporary transformation is interesting because it forgoes the conventional aspects of urban planning by instead using programming as a catalyst for a change in urban form. The revitalization of Downtown Phoenix can be attributed in part to events put on by Roosevelt Row. First Friday Art Walk, an event hosted by ArtLink Phoenix, takes place on Roosevelt Row, and an empty lot on Roosevelt called A.R.T.S. (Adaptive Reuse of Temporary Space) is often temporarily redeveloped for events. A piece in Better Cities and Towns has noted the correlation of the arts and urbanism, and it’s reasonable to argue that the arts have played a vital role in reviving Downtown Phoenix.
The Roosevelt Row CDC is closely linked to the Roosevelt Row Arts District (RoRo), the district that has played a major role in the creation of community in Phoenix. During the 1970’s, the City of Phoenix rezoned the area to incentivize the development of skyscrapers for office space, which led to the decline and disinvestment in the neighborhood. Eventually, artists were attracted to the area for its affordable studio and gallery space, and after some serious artistry the area is again vibrant and occasionally attracts events like Feast on the Street.
The Roosevelt Row CDC played a part in supporting the Feast on the Street, and in connection with ASU’s Art Museum and ArtPlace, has been successful in calling attention through marketing to Phoenix’s Downtown without the need for traditional urban planning and revitalization.
Has your city or neighborhood seen this kind of colorful success?
Credits: Photography by James Gardner. Data linked to sources.