Taking a critical look at public space in Los Angeles
Hello! Welcome back. Today we’ll try to add a different layer of data and interpretation in the post. I’ll try to make it a little more analytical with some outside data to interpret. Very empirical, yes indeed.
Yelp! If you ask me, it is usually filled with people whining and crying about some little thing that somehow messed up their sense of entitlement to a perfect experience. Ok ok, that might be a little hard. I will say this though, Yelp provides us with some interesting data in our quest to understand how and why people use public space in Los Angeles.
As of today, 7/2/13 Grand Park has 80 reviews. I read through all of them searching for patterns or common experiences. Using this data, I visually represented (in the form of a word cloud) what the most prominent feature people experience when at this fairly new park.
Ok go ahead and click on the word cloud above to get a bigger picture. Pretty self explanatory – the larger the word appears in the cloud, the more emphasis it has. In this case, the emphasis reflects the amount of times the word was used in the reviews from Yelp.
For those of you unfamiliar with the park. Here is a detailed map:
The park is about 12 acres broken up into three parts. It connects the music center to City Hall. It opened to the public in the second half of 2012. I’ll discuss the features and surrounding area in the next post, along with how people use the park.
Ok so let’s take the top 10 words and discuss them at length. Pretty telling.
1) Fountain (used 91 times)
Fountain is by far the most prominent word in the reviews. Easy to see why! The Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain is beautiful to look at:
But it is really one of the only major ways you can interact with the park outside of just walking through it. This of course is extremely important in analyzing why people use a park. Not only is the fountain a nice thing to look at, but it allows people to take off their shoes and walk in the water!
2. Water (used 40 times)
Again, this goes hand in hand with the fountain of course. Mostly though, this word was used specifically to describe people having fun getting wet with the water – i.e. physically interacting with the park.
3. Starbucks (used 32 times)
This Starbucks always seems to be busy. It’s a simple Starbucks but really the only place you can get coffee around this area. Plus, it has the great advantage of being right next to this fountain. The combination of having a well branded coffee shop like Starbucks, plenty of seating options, opportunities to people watch, and the fountain really enhances the simplicity of it all. And of course, it provides another example of how people interact with the park.
4. Pink (used 32 times)
Love them or hate them – they stand out and make a statement
Most reviews were favorable towards these chairs. I like them for the most part. They seem to give the park some form of character – differentiates it from other public spaces.
5. Parking (used 31 times)
This one really annoyed me. The word “Metro” is barely used 9 times. Most people of course used “parking” in a disparaging manner towards the park. They were angered that going to this park cost so much because of the high cost of parking. Are you people serious? Take a train or bus here. Leave the car at home. However, this does speak volumes of what people expect. Even in an urban park, people have a sense of entitlement when it comes to having sufficient spaces to park their automobiles.
6. Clean (used 27 times)
This was a surprise. Well for the reviewers apparently it was. It seems most were surprised that the park was so clean. I’m not sure what they were expecting but perhaps nearby Pershing Square has soured their experiences on parks in Downtown.
7. Green (used 24 times)
This word was split half and half. Half of the reviewers were happy with the large spaces of green (specifically the event lawn near City Hall). The other half were disappointed in the lack of green space. I personally think that this park has far too much concrete and too little green space.
8. Dog (used 23 times)
Most people seemed to enjoy the fact that they can bring their four legged buddies to this park. A few were angry at the possibility of sitting in dog feces or urine.
9. City Hall (used 21 times)
Such a handsome building. The park makes for a perfect place to admire this beauty of a building.
10. Shade (used 19 times)
Shade or lack of shade is a big problem in the park. Of course we’ll have to wait for the current trees to mature, but as of right now – the park is in limited amounts of shade. Look at the picture above. The bottom third of the park with all the grass is obviously lacking shade. The grass makes for a perfect place to sit but the direct sunlight is a nuisance.
Ok so that’s it. I’m curious as to how the reviews will change once the park and the programming of activities at the park start to mature. Overall, I’m a fan of the space but it does have some serious flaws. I’ll try to discuss that next time. Thanks for reading.