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Birch Street Plaza

Birch Street Plaza will transform Birch Street, in Boston’s Roslindale Village, from a street for cars into a plaza for people.

In response to community desire to transform Birch Street into a pedestrian plaza, the City and design team conceptualized and installed a six-day pop-up plaza in Spring 2019. The temporary installation prototyped, in real-time, the locations of future plaza elements utilizing duct tape to replicate paving patterns, milk crates to mimic seating, and wooden dowels to visualize trees. Through in-person and online surveys, observation, and conversation the team gathered feedback from the community, directly informing the final design of the permanent Birch Street Plaza. Construction of the future permanent plaza is expected to begin in Late Summer/Fall 2023.

A group of people lounging and playing on a pedestrian street with trees in planters and a painted streetscape. Lights hung up between the buildings


2023 Construction Update

Contact: Transportation

In 2021 and 2022, the Boston Transportation Department attempted to hire contractors to build the Birch Street Plaza, but ran into numerous issues with procurement, contracting, and legal issues to get the appropriate contractor hired to build the plaza to match the design produced by Merritt Chase and agreed to by the community. Unfortunately the City was not able to uphold its commitment to the community to deliver a beautiful and comprehensive tactical plaza on Birch Street as swiftly as promised.

In the fall of 2023, the Transportation Department and its contractors will begin to install elements of the plaza per the designs below. The elements will not be installed all at the same time, so some elements (i.e. painting of the street, arrival of new moveable furniture) may be installed weeks or months before others (i.e. installation of planters with trees or lighting installation). The Transportation Department will update this website periodically to notify businesses and the community about when to expect elements to arrive and whether there will be any disruption to pedestrian access or the outdoor patios currently on Birch Street.

Interim Condition

Contact: Transportation

Since the pilot demonstration of Birch Street Plaza in Spring 2019, the plaza's approval for permanent transformation was formally announced in September 2019. The plaza's design was approved by the Public Improvement Commission later in the Fall of 2019. Subsequent legal agreements and construction documentation proceeded in late 2019 and early 2020.

As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in the Spring of 2020, implementation of the Birch Street Plaza as designed was temporarily paused as city priorities shifted to emergency response. However, Birch Street was pedestrianized in Summer 2020 without the elements in the approved plaza plans as part of the City's Healthy Streets and Outdoor Dining initiatives. Adjacent restaurants and breweries were able to utilize space on Birch Street for outdoor patios and community members, particularly Roslindale Village Main Streets, were able to use the street space for gathering and other outdoor programming. Since Spring 2021, Birch Street has remained in its interim state as a year-round, car-free space with patios for adjacent businesses and open space for people to walk or recreate.

Plaza Design

Photo Credit:
Merritt Chase
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