Story at a glance

  • To bring new life to their streets, cities are painting colorful murals right on the pavement.
  • Bloomberg Associates is launching a competition to fund 10 new street murals in 10 American cities.
  • If chosen, cities will get $25,000 to support covering streets, transportation infrastructure and highway underpasses with fresh, locally produced art.

Cities across the U.S. are splashing their streets with colorful paint to reclaim acres of asphalt. By rerouting traffic and painting the road surface, cities have created space for park plazas and local culture where before there was only dull asphalt. 

In New York City, former mayor and potential presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg was able to banish cars from 180 acres of road and turn them into 60 park plazas with little more than cans of paint, Citylab reports.

Now, Bloomberg Associates has launched a new program called Asphalt Art, as well as an accompanying guide, that will support 10 street murals in 10 U.S. cities. Once the paint has dried, Bloomberg will track the projects’ respective impacts on safety, commerce and civic life.

To be selected, cities must submit an application and have a population ranging from 30,000 to 500,000 people. If chosen, cities will get $25,000 to support covering streets, transportation infrastructure and highway underpasses with fresh, locally produced art. 

“It’s not just about art—it’s about creating safe spaces for people for pennies on the dollar,” Janette Sadik-Khan, transportation principal for Bloomberg Associates, told Curbed. “This is fast, easy, inexpensive, and transformative.”

In addition to marking space for pedestrian use, streets awash in color can calm traffic and spruce up otherwise brutal infrastructure. But they can also commemorate community members, signal upcoming revitalization efforts and spark dialogue. 

Applications are due Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, and all projects must be completed by the end of 2020.

Published on Nov 11, 2019