Skip to Content
Streetsblog California home
Streetsblog California home
Log In
Streetsblog USA

Inspiration for Turning Decrepit Public Staircases Into Beautiful Places

In cities with steep hills, public staircases can be an important piece of the walking network. Like any type of infrastructure, however, sometimes cities let their staircases fall apart.

This staircase in Seoul, South Korea, hosts a mural that helps make it more visually appealing and inviting. Photo: Randy Simes
Murals like this one in Seoul can change how people perceive public staircases. Photo: Randy Simes
false

Randy Simes at Urban Cincy says that's happening to many of Cincinnati's public stairs right now. To turn around that situation, he points to Seoul, South Korea, for inspiration:

Many of [Cincinnati's] public staircases, which long served as a critical component of the sidewalk network, have fallen into disrepair. In many cases, due to either lack of maintenance or neighborhood distrust, public staircases have been closed off altogether.

This should not be the case.

One potential way to address this would be to focus an ArtWorks program on the city’s public staircases. Artists could be engaged to come up with creative mural designs for the stairs themselves, or perhaps suggest other installations. These could then be complemented by lighting installations that would not only add an artistic touch after dusk, but also make the corridors safer for their users and the neighborhoods around them.

Seoul’s Ihwa neighborhood has done exactly this.

Set on the side of a steep hill leading to Seoul’s historic fortification wall, the neighborhood has seen many of its staircases painted, along with surrounding building walls, to create a truly unique environment. A variety of art installations were also undertaken in order to create an even more dynamic experience.

Today visitors flock to the area to view the murals and experience the other installations some 60 artists created in 2006 as part of Naksan Project. Due to this influx of people, small cafes, galleries and restaurants are now prevalent throughout the neighborhood.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Streets.mn calls Minneapolis's draft complete streets policy "a good start." Walkable West Palm Beach points out how the presumption that "everyone will drive" is built into transportation planning in Florida. And the Bike League explains how Stanford University achieved its highest ranking for a bike-friendly campus.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog California

Encouraging Seniors to Use Active and Public Transportation

Using - and encouraging the use of - active and multimodal transport can greatly enhance people's lives, especially seniors

July 17, 2024

SFMTA Approves Merchant-Driven, ‘Holistic’ Plan for West Portal

SFMTA board again fails in its role to put transit, safety, and city wide interests above parochial politics

July 17, 2024

Study: More Evidence That Safer Streets Help Local Business

...and more insight into why the belief that they would harm business is so hard to quash.

July 17, 2024

Wednesday’s Headlines

Is the solution to an unsafe crosswalk to just remove it? National data about pedestrian deaths has huge gaps; CA's grid passed the heat wave test; More

July 17, 2024
See all posts