One day a year, parking spaces in cities all over the world get transformed: September 20 is PARK(ing) Day, an annual event for artists, activists and others to turn parking spaces into tiny public parks.
There are no hard and fast rules for what a PARK(ing) Day park is: the organization's FAQ page describes the spots as "temporary parks and other spaces for people to enjoy," and says the Day is "a non-commercial project, intended to promote creativity, civic engagement, critical thinking, unscripted social interactions, generosity and play."
The first PARK(ing) project happened in 2005 in San Francisco, when a design company called Rebar turned one metered parking space into a temporary public park in an area that the city said lacked public open space. That park only existed for two hours — the maximum length of time you could pay for on the parking meter — and was then rolled up and packed away. But a photo of the PARK(ing) park spread on the internet, and soon the idea of the Day was born.
Since then, PARK(ing) Day has spread around the world. As of 2011, it was happening in 35 countries (including Canada — parks have sprung up in Vancouver, Quebec, Ontario and Alberta), and included a total of 975 parks. The organization decided to stop tracking numbers after that year, saying it wanted to focus more on the quality of urban space rather than the quantity of parks.
You can read more about PARK(ing) Day on the website, and find out how to get involved in next year's event. For now, if you weren't hanging out in a parking spot park today, check out some shots of parks from this year and years past in the gallery above.