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Case Study: Revitalize Congress Street

Case Study: Revitalize Congress Street

The initiative to revitalize Congress Street aimed to use art, design, and interaction to create a beautiful, thriving commercial district.

The initiative to revitalize Congress Street aimed to use art, design, and interaction to create a beautiful, thriving commercial district with outdoor terraces and striking public art to help spur small business growth and neighborhood engagement. Besides the goal of beautifying a historic corner of Salem, the project aimed to reimagine Congress Street into a place where neighbors can engage and come together in the urban environment.

Revitalize Congress Street involved four placemaking installations to activate the corridor at a number of key locations with public art, traffic calming, and parklets. These changes were aimed at providing more outdoor spaces for residents and visitors, making the area more pedestrian-friendly, and ensuring long-term profitability for small businesses. The plan also provided solid groundwork for long-term infrastructure improvements. The Revitalize Congress Street project included custom-designed parklets with small, artistic seating spaces, colorful crosswalks, and welcoming public art plaza.

“It was so nice to get to know the young people living in the new housing units on Harbor Street. At the ribbon cutting I met a few of the young people and was really impressed! Plus, the murals on the building and the space in front for the event really made the whole neighborhood come alive.” - Point Neighborhood Resident
A parklet space installation on Congress Street with seating and shading from the street.

“People in the neighborhood don’t feel like they belong here sometimes, it's important… [to] feel invested in the community,” Shantel Alix, Community Resident.

The Congress Street Parklet was very active, with many resident gatherings and special events following the installation in summer 2019. This included resident-led domino nights, bingo events, and even resident birthday parties. Community members in this urban neighborhood enjoyed having access to this outdoor space in the summer and community improvements continue to build upon the success of this initial installation.

Project Details

  • Project: Revitalize Congress Street
  • Project Type: Public Art, Events, Streetscapes
  • Project Location: Salem, Massachusetts
  • Crowdfunding Raise: $42,150
  • Crowdgranting Match: $40,000
  • Patrons: 61
  • Leveraged Funding: $20,000
  • Total Project Estimate: $102,150
Art installation featuring murals activating a street corner.

About Commonwealth Places

Commonwealth Places, a collaborative initiative from MassDevelopment and Patronicity, was a crowdgranting challenge program to activate new or distressed public places and community spaces. The program was open to municipalities and nonprofits to improve low- and moderate-income communities in Massachusetts.

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