Jaywalk 'Til Your Heart's Content This Sunday During Boston's 'Open Newbury Street'

Several restaurants expanded onto the street during last year's Open Newbury Street. (Joe Difazio for WBUR)
Several restaurants expanded onto the street during last year's Open Newbury Street. (Joe Difazio for WBUR)

Traffic is just a fact of life in Boston. But for eight glorious hours on Sunday — and then again during two more days later this summer — traffic won't be a problem on Newbury Street. In fact, it won't exist at all.

It's the second year that city officials are temporarily closing the popular Back Bay shopping destination to vehicular traffic to give pedestrians free rein.

The Open Newbury Street event takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. between Arlington Street and Mass. Ave. Parking in the area becomes restricted at 8 a.m. in preparation for the event.

Jacob Wessel, director of Boston's City Hall to Go program, says the hope is that people will see Newbury Street as more than just — well, a street.

"We really want to reinforce the fact that streets are places — and places for people not just to flow through, but to stay and hang out and be," he says.

Wessel says while city officials considered the 2016 Open Newbury Street a success, many businesses said they wanted to have more input on the planning of the day. The businesses there didn't quite know what they could do with an open road, Wessel says.

To that end, city officials met with managers and business owners block by block. He says the groups talked about how businesses could better coordinate various experiences at the same time on the street — from pottery-making to open-air eating to shoe shopping.

"Oftentimes, Boston can seem to be a place where you're not allowed to experiment," Wessel says. "We really wanted to shake that perception off and really tell these businesses and other people on the street that there's time to really take advantage of this public space and try out new activities for all the attendees and Bostonians to enjoy."

If you miss this Sunday's Open Newbury Street, you'll have two more chances: Aug. 13 and Sept. 10.

"It's a great opportunity for people to meet each other, to discover new things, to have themselves a great time," Wessel says, "oftentimes without needing to spend much money at all."

Last year's Open Newbury Street brought us #CargoGate courtesy of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. What will it bring this year?


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Bob Shaffer was a producer in WBUR’s newscast unit.



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