In San Francisco they have termed public spaces that are titled to private owners as POPOS’s, or privately owned public open spaces. For anyone looking to work in a walking tour on their next visit to the Golden Gate city, here are the spots to see.
I recently did a walking tour of Minneapolis’s skyways lead by local Minneapolis geographer Bill Lindeke. Normally a space where one is hustled and bustled between downtown workers clipping off to some corporate meeting or skirting out on a personal mission, the weekend exodus of business people made for a quiet Saturday morning stroll in what is said to be the largest skyway system in the world. And it all started just about 55 years ago.
I suspect that most pedestrians never give much thought to their ownership- or at least not until they find themselves unexpectedly locked out into the evening hours- They walk, talk and feel public but are in fact privately owned and maintained. Businesses started to join their buildings as a service to workers and visitors, and in an eclectic haphazard fashion the system has been expanded horizontally as the towers have grown vertically.
The sights and sounds of our up north culture meandering through the skyways are depicted in this podcast by Deep North. The listener may pick up on a tension between those that they presently serve and a group that would love to redirect pedestrian traffic back out to curb and storefront. But for any policy types throwing around the idea that the skyways should leave our fair city, I would have you listen again and again until it is steadfastly clear that workers and visitors alike would rebel.
The skyways are assets to Minneapolis as the parks noted above are to San Francisco. They are enjoyed by the public because private owners participate in the arrangement. They have no other shared resemblance; one is no more than a metal hallway with not a spot to stop where as the other has benches and flowers and playsets for children; one is climate controlled whereas the other subjected to the sun, the rain and the fog; one sits high off the ground the other reaches down into the earth. Public goods are goods that a citizenry decides to make public, as seen here, in these two cities.