In praise of Lisbon’s park kiosks


While New York takes away public trash bins to deal with them overflowing— instead of just emptying them more often— in Lisbon they’re rebuilding public parks and inviting people to use more public spaces and resources.   

One way to make a city more livable is with simple—and smart—use of the small parks that dot a city. I just got back from Lisbon, where I found the mini-parks incredibly functional. I napped in them, ate breakfast in them and drank wine in them (my favorite was Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, pictured above). They really are basically public living rooms. 

Big parks like Central Park are great, but if you live in a city, it's the small parks near your apartment that you end up using most. In Lisbon, these small parks have kiosks that sell food, coffee, magazines, wine, beer, and cocktails. Since prices are super reasonable (a beer was two euros), it makes hanging in a park an ideal alternative to going to a bar.

There are a few reasons why I think this is far superior to how we treat parks here in New York. First, these kiosks help normalize drinking culture. You’re not seeing people getting smashed. Instead, people are enjoying in moderation. Second, it helps promote community through the active social use of the public space. Also, these kiosks promote small business. 

Here in New York, we do have vendors in parks, but they're often high-end or expensive options. Shake Shack in Madison Square Park is probably the most accessible and closest example of what I’m describing, though it’s still even more commercial and built-out than the vendor options in Lisbon. 

To see the Lisbon park kiosks I’m describing check out this great photo essay in Spaces from photographer Richard John Seymour, or go for yourself and have a glass of vinho verde.