A true public space is overtly political in that it is a democratized space. That is, there is no regular programming which dictates the goings on within such a space. Instead, the day to day happenings are largely decided by those who use the place. City government or other municipalities can manage or maintain public space, but cannot impose additional restrictive rules or regulations if the park or plaza is to remain truly democratic.
To enjoy such a space involves trusting strangers, and in all relationships of trust, there is risk. In the midst of food carts and outdoor chess there is also crime, and even the rare act of terrorism.
As the Project for Public Space has written in the past: “With mounting public anxiety, and the fact that the distinction between public and private space is becoming increasingly blurred, there is greater likelihood that places will be more intensely monitored, surveyed, even militarized, in order to evoke a sense of safety.”
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) March 3, 2016
This is certainly true in Detroit’s rebounding downtown. Once a bustling capital of midwest industry, Detroit’s city center was hollowed out by freeways and parking lots. Only recently have big money billionaires like Quicken Loan czar Dan Gilbert reinvested in downtown.