New Palmer Street Project
New Palmer will be a street like no other, a connector linking important commercial arteries; an urban hyphen energizing Church and Brattle Streets, a new and completely unique destination. New Palmer creates an urban stage for public interaction.
On July 6th of 2005, The Boston Globe reported that "Palmer Street, a dreary Harvard Square pass-through connecting Church and Brattle Streets, is little more than a service alley, "a dull, sunless corridor", according to Jody Pinto and Keith Crawford. Pinto and Crawford wrote in their proposal to the City of Cambridge that their desire was to transform Palmer Street into a "magical place".
Two years have passed and that transformation can be seen taking place on a daily basis amidst the noise, clamor, dirt and construction equipment on Palmer Street.
The narrow sidewalks have been removed and the street and the sidewalk will be merged onto one level. Very soon, the new street pavers will be in place and parts of the new pavement and the Coop sky bridge will be lit. The super graphic on the building at the corner of Palmer and Brattle will be installed. All of these elements combined will create an environment of soft, mysterious illumination.
The City of Cambridge has joined together with the five abutting property owners to create a public-private partnership that includes a Public-art project. The five owners (Harvard University, the Coop, Dow Properties, Trinity Properties and Wells Real Estate) have funded $375,000.00 and the City will spend in excess of $750,000.00 to complete the project.
Even though the Palmer project costs have increased from the original estimates, the Harvard Square Business Association, the property owners and City of Cambridge are committed to completing two major features of the project that remain unfunded. They are: the Performance area that includes the Palmer Blocks and the sky-bridge projection equipment.
In discussing the priorities with the Jody Pinto, the artist and designer, she believes the most important element of the two remaining, is the completion of the performance area. This includes the installation of the Palmer Blocks, which will create the live, central component of the street/stage design. Ms. Pinto envisions Palmer Blocks stacked in various configurations. Some blocks are tinted fiberglass, illuminated at night. Other blocks are concrete. They give the impression of giant tumbling play blocks. But what they create is much-needed public seating, a place to have lunch, to stop and rest during business, shopping or to meet friends. It is an available stage for performance, music, and occasional club venue. At night they glow and become Palmers’ social stage.
The sky-bridge was seen from the beginning as a wonderful opportunity to bring the community together, making Palmer and Cambridge a focus of urban collaboration.
Building on the “drive-in” concept, a screen is drawn across the lower portion of the bridge. A projection/sound system is mounted above the street. Now it’s Palmer nights! The street takes on an exciting unique atmosphere. Imagine films, videos, live projection of events and exhibitions! On major Palmer Street weekends, the street is closed and everyone comes!
Jody Pinto, Project Artist and Keith Crawford, Project Architect envisioned from the beginning to make Palmer Street, not just a destination, but a “jewel in the crown” of Harvard Square and the City of Cambridge.
The Harvard Square Business Association extends sincerest thanks and appreciation to the City of Cambridge, Jody Pinto, Keith Crawford, John DiGiovanni of Trinity Properties, Tom Lucey representing Harvard University, Jerry Murphy President of The Harvard Coop, Jason Walega representing Wells Real Estate, and Richard Getz representing Dow Properties for their commitment to this project which brings new light to a once dark street. Light that shines…promotes interaction and builds friendship for residents, businesses, students and visitors from our local, national and global community.