Mayor Walsh announced today that the City of Syracuse is one of 26 U.S. cities to be awarded a 2021 Bloomberg Philanthropies “Asphalt Art Initiative” grant. The $25,000 award will be used to reimagine an underutilized expanse of asphalt in front of Syracuse City Hall. The work will be created under the supervision of the non-profit community group, Adapt CNY, in coordination with the Syracuse Public Art Commission.

The Asphalt Art Initiative uses art and design to improve street safety, revitalize public spaces, and engage residents in their communities.  It is inspired by work done in New York City during Michael R. Bloomberg’s mayoralty (2002-2013) and the work of Bloomberg Philanthropies pro bono consulting arm, Bloomberg Associates, in advising cities on implementing asphalt art projects.

“I am excited to engage our local community in imagining and creating this project,” said Mayor Walsh. “With the help of Adapt CNY and local residents, we can use art and design to revitalize this public space in a way that also improves safety and mobility. I’m grateful to Mayor Bloomberg and to Bloomberg Philanthropies for selecting Syracuse’s application and for making this project possible.”

The City’s application addresses the paved space inside the median along East Washington Street between Market Street and Montgomery Street. Historically, this area was home to planting beds and pedestrian space prior to being converted to a parking area. The application cites a long-term goal to return the space to such use using the asphalt art project as a “proof of concept.” It would apply paint and other materials that can be easily maintained and modified in the future. The project is expected to be planned and completed in 2022 under the established permit and approval processes of the Public Art Commission.

Historic photo of Syracuse City Hall showing a pedestrian plaza along East Washington Street between Market Street and Montgomery Street. The area is currently used for parking and vehicle traffic.

“Asphalt art projects help cities reclaim public spaces, make them brighter and safer and build community – all important goals, especially amid the continuing hardships of the pandemic, said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th mayor of New York City. “Cities that tap into the power of public art bring new life and energy to city streets, inspiring residents and fostering a shared spirit of neighborhood pride. There can be real civic strength in public art, and this program helps cities capitalize on it.”

In addition to Syracuse, the selected Asphalt Art Initiative cities include: Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Billings, MT; Chicago, IL; Birmingham, AL; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; East Providence, RI; Fairbanks, AK; Huntington, WV; Houston, TX; Kansas City, MO; Kodiak, AK; Long Beach, CA; Memphis, TN; Newark, NJ; New Brunswick, NJ; Niagara Falls, NY; Providence, RI; San Juan, PR; St Louis, MO; Starkville, MS; Tallahassee, FL.; Tucson, AZ; and Wilmington, DE.

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