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The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces
Screening and Discussion

William Whyte in a still from "The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces."
As part of Van Alen Institute’s Shore to Core competition, the winning team, Happier by Design integrated research on restoration theory, installing frames which encourage passersby to shift attention to the surrounding natural elements. Decreased activity in the hippocampus—specifically, low dopamine levels—appears to be why individuals with ADHD exhibit impulsive behavior. Providing engaging sensory environments that promote dopamine production in the brain may be a helpful support in stimulating prefrontal brain activity.

In 1980, William H. Whyte published the findings from his revolutionary Street Life Project in The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. The book was instantly labeled a classic and launched a mini-revolution in the planning and study of public spaces. The accompanying film is one of the most well-regarded documentaries about urban planning, and an incredible time capsule of New York City street life of the late 1970s. Whyte and his team chose a variety of public spaces including plazas, streetscapes, playgrounds, and neighborhoods, and set about observing and recording how and why people use them.

Join us for a screening and discussion of this classic documentary with Nidhi Gulati, Program Manager Transportation, Project for Public Spaces.

$7 admission.