Streetscapes for Wellness

Streetscapes for Wellness Cover Image

Streetscapes for Wellness design by MGMT. design and cover photo courtesy of Street Lab.

Designing New York: Streetscapes for Wellness is a collaboration of the New York City Public Design Commission, The Fine Arts Federation of New York, the New York Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the New York City Department of City Planning's Urban Design Office, a broad interagency working group, and many contributors who are involved in the planning, design, maintenance, and programming of streets.

Streetscapes have proven to be a critical player in the wellbeing and quality of life of the neighborhoods they inhabit and connect. At a moment when the public realm is being significantly altered to address issues of public health and security, social, racial, and climate justice, Streetscapes for Wellness explores how innovative public realm initiatives focused on wellness can inform and inspire the future of New York City’s streetscapes.

Streetscapes for Wellness includes approximately 30 case studies from New York City and a handful of other communities to suggest ways of reimagining public spaces to further social and environmental justice while enhancing public health. An analysis of community health data, provided by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, underscores the importance of designing and building high-quality public spaces to address inequities across New York City.

This publication serves both as a point of reference and a source of inspiration, and it demonstrates that considering wellness should inform how we plan, design, maintain, and program our public realm for years to come.

Download the publication here.


“Well-designed public space is a critical part of improving our collective physical, mental, and emotional health. As the city continues to recover strongly, our administration is planning a city that is more resilient, not only to climate change but also to future public health challenges — and equity must be, and is, at the heart of that work. Every New Yorker, regardless of neighborhood or identity, deserves access to high-quality open spaces, and that’s what our administration is working to deliver.”

—New York City Mayor Eric Adams


Live capture illustration from December 2, 2020 Streetscapes for Wellness event by Zara Fina Stasi, Good for the Bees.

Streetscape design encompasses a vast number of elements on the street—from benches and bus shelters to wayfinding signage, Wi-Fi kiosks, and electric vehicle charging stations—many of which are redundant, obsolete, or serve only a single purpose. Now, our streets are also filled with outdoor dining, retail, and learning spaces. As such, all of these elements compete for space in our public realm and can create clutter and confusion and substantially impact environmental health and quality of life. A holistic and integrated approach for a safer public realm should not only comply with public health and security concerns, but also improve aesthetics, usability, and public perception to support an inclusive and thriving urban environment and public life that is allowed the flexibility to shift and adapt in conjunction with the city.

Streetscapes for Wellness and past programming provides guiding principles for the quality design of public streetscapes and adjacent open spaces, with a particular focus on the urban response to holistic wellness and public health since the beginning of the pandemic.

Video coverage of the Streetscapes for Wellness virtual launch event on December 2, 2020, can be found here.

A list of shared resources can be found here.

In the News:

Streetscapes of New York

Download Streetscapes of New York, a pocket zine created by the NYC Public Design Commission, in collaboration with the NYC Department of City Planning's Urban Design Office for WE Walk: Streets for Connection, a 2020 PARK(ing) Day event:

Community engagement at WE Walk: Streets for Connection event, photos by PDC Staff.

PARK(ing) Day at the Clean Air Green Corridor:

Public Design Commission Staff participate annually in planning PARK(ing) Day community engagement events with the New York Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA-NY). In 2021 and 2022, PARK(ing) Day was hosted at West 182nd Street in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. This corridor is the site of the Clean Air Green Corridor, a youth-led community initiative led by a group of students at the neighboring Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS), which is one of approximately 30 case studies that is featured within the forthcoming Streetscapes for Wellness publication.

PDC Staff and ASLA-NY engage with community members and lead hands-on activitiesfolding miniature zines, decorating terra cotta pots, and planting herbsat the 2022 PARK(ing) Day at the Green Corridor event, photos by PDC Staff and Futures Ignite.

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