Let's talk about kiosks. Not the cell phone or lemonade or sunglasses kiosks we've all become accustomed to seeing in malls, but the urban kiosk found on city streets.
I was recently in downtown Santa Cruz and was impressed by their use of kiosks along Pacific Avenue. There are only a few, but they are well-placed and offer a variety of services, such as flowers and food.
It's not surprising that European cities have made great use of kiosks. Taking their cue from the Ottoman Empire over 700 years ago, many European cities have integrated kiosks into their urban landscapes. And, in turn, their citizens have integrated kiosks into their everyday lives.
Paris, for example, lines its great avenues with kiosks selling everything from newspapers to tobacco to crepes. London, too, has a vibrant mix of kiosks in its urban core. In these cities and others, citizens visit regularly, places they gather. Tourists also have come to rely on kiosks for food, souvenirs, even theatre tickets, as with TKTS' famous discount ticket booths around the world.
Stateside, several cities have have taken advantage of what kiosks have to offer. Washington DC, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Seattle, amongst others, have dabbled in kiosks throughout their downtowns.
But unquestionably, the American city that has most embraced kiosks is New York City. Gotham is liberally sprinkled with kiosks throughout. New Yorkers and tourists alike have come to expect kiosks as part of the New York experience. One thing New York City has done particularly well is strategically placing their kiosks in the city's heavily-used parks.
Now back to Santa Cruz, their Pacific Avenue is an ideal location for kiosks, it's a long street with heavy traffic and a solid retail mix. Now, "heavy foot traffic" and "solid retail mix" aren't typically used to describe downtown San Jose. However, kiosks could be an interesting, and relatively inexpensive, part of the revitalization of certain areas of the city core.
In an upcoming post, I'll identity some areas of downtown San Jose I think would benefit from kiosks.