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Bryant Park Attracts Women to Maintain Gender Balance

Parks Lure in Women, so the Men Will Follow

Well, this is certainly one type of urban planning! Every day, thousands of New Yorkers flock to Bryant Park at lunchtime. While I'm sure none would be surprised to learn they're being watched, few realize they're being counted.

Every day, an employee of New York's Department of Parks and Recreation walks through Bryant Park at lunchtime with clickers in hand—both hands. One is for men and the other for women, and he clicks as he walks. Something I'm sure Parks and Recreation's Leslie Knope would dream of if Pawnee, IN, had the budget, and parks with people.

Bryant Park's goal is simple: keep the male-to-female ratio as close to 50/50 as possible. That's a people-watching haven for both sexes. But to keep everyone happy, the park's president, Daniel Biederman, knows to please the ladies first. "Women are more discriminating park users," he said. "They're more likely to pick up disorder. When they feel threatened they'll leave." Keep them coming, the thinking goes, and the men will follow.

Biederman lures women with spotless bathrooms and constantly bussed tables. He knows to keep turnover high, as an urban park's success is judged not by the length of a visit but buy numbers. And on the day the Wall Street Journal visited, its male-female ratio was 50/53. Just as planned.

Source: Flickr User Ed Yourdon

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