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From Parks & POPS to Sidewalks & Alleyways

Public space in the city encompasses an array of different types of assets, sharing the one core attribute that they are accessible to the general public.

The most familiar and prominent form of public space is public parks. Owned and operated by the government, they are intended to be places of activity for people to recreate, relax, and reflect. In the urban context, they can serve as key nexus points for a variety of communities.

DTLA Parks

Dense urban centers like DTLA don’t always have a lot of major public parks, but they often have a collection of privately owned and operated, but publicly accessible, spaces known as POPS.

DTLA has a wealth of POPS, which have many of the same qualities as a public park and can be adapted to serve a broader mix of users and uses. These spaces have tremendous potential to enhance the DTLA experience if they are appropriately utilized, managed, and programmed.


LA City Planning, Celebrating Privately Owned Public Spaces in LA
“Learn about the City’s efforts to cultivate active gathering spaces for personal enjoyment and social interaction and ensure that they remain open and inviting to all, for many years to come.”
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Connecting the parks and POPS are sidewalks, walkways, and interstitial spaces such as alleyways. While these are the most traversed public spaces in Downtown, they often receive the least attention, in part because making significant improvements involves a range of complex factors. Nevertheless, several significant streetscape improvements have been delivered over the years in Downtown LA.

Streetscape Improvements & Interstitial Open Space

Because the visual appeal of the streetscape fundamentally contributes to walkability, it is also worth considering how building facades, storefronts, fencing, and other private structures contribute to the overall experience of the public realm. Of particular importance are popular destinations such as open-air retail centers and areas where there is a high concentration of retail storefronts.

Open Retail and Streetfront Clusters

Relatedly, art can be a critical component of the public space experience: whether it is officially designated as public art; private artwork that is visible to the public such as the many murals that use full buildings as their canvas; or even a performance that takes place in the public realm. This map includes just a small sampling of well over 200 individual pieces of public sculpture and murals in DTLA.

Public Art & Murals

DTLA Public Space Inventory Map