Join the Somerville Planning Department for a discussion series about the future of Davis Square. What issues and opportunities do we as a community need to address for Davis Square to be its best self? What is important to preserve? At the first meeting, we will work collaboratively to identify outstanding topics of interest and at the second meeting, we will work together to develop an action plan to address those topics.

Monday, September 25, 6 pm, in the Tufts Administration Building (TAB) at 167 Holland Street

Thursday, October 19, 6 pm, in the Baptist Church at 31 College Avenue

Davis Square Neighborhood Plan

The Davis Square planning process started in 2013. At that time we held a crowdsourcing, visioning session, and three-day charrette. We got some great ideas from that process that we’re carrying forward into our future work with the neighborhood.

In 2015, we got the opportunity to work with Gehl Architects to document the public space and life in Somerville. Several spots in Davis Square were surveyed. People LOVE Davis Square, but I think we knew that, and want to see the public realm improved upon. The work culminated in the Public Space Public Life Report.

In 2016, we brought Gehl back to work in Davis Square on a public realm pilot. In June we shut down the slip lane (that’s a technical term but it’s the turn lane to go from Highland to Elm Street) in front of Mike’s and chair bombed Seven Hills Park with red Adirondack chairs. We collected data and were able to compare it with the 2015 data. In 2015, 11.64 people on average were experiencing the park in a 10 minute period. After the install of the chairs, 21.16 people were experiencing the park over a 10 minute period. Giving people the opportunity to sit and the ability to move their chair to where they find comfort paid off in Seven Hills.

Last but not least, we came to the community in the summer of 2016 to let you know we’ll be back for more. We know we need to focus on transportation, cooperative management, infill development, and lodging.

We’re starting 2017 by talking about neighborhood character followed by transportation (meeting dates to follow neighborhood character). The first series of meetings announced will help us understand what EXACTLY people love about Davis Square. The end result will be design guidelines that help us shape future development to be within the character that is loved in Davis Square. So…join us!

On April 27, 2015 we announced the relaunch of Somerville By Design in Davis Square. At the meeting we recapped the need for follow up on: the public realm, transportation through the square, cooperative management, infill development, and lodging. We’re starting with the public realm – other follow up will take place after the public realm in the summer/fall of 2016 followed by a plan draft.

In the Spring of 2017 we held a series of four meetings discussing the character of Davis Square. The presentations covered places types, developments and aesthetics. Planners also did a tour of Davis Square with attendees to take pictures of relevant features that expressed the character of the square. You can review complete videos and presentations of this meeting series here.

Upcoming this fall are two additional neighborhood meetings. On the first we will be seeking direct participation from community members to come up with topics regarding Davis Square they feel are important. On the second meeting we will collaboratively develop an action plan on how to address those outstanding concerns. You can find details about these meetings here.

Public Realm Pilot

The public realm in Davis Square has been part of the discussion from the beginning: sidewalks aren’t wide enough, there’s not enough places to sit down, and the community path doesn’t connect (among other things). It’s hard to wait for change. Streetscape and infrastructure projects cost millions of dollars and take years to design and construct. What we’re interested in doing is implementing AND measuring the impacts of short term improvements. On June 12 & 13th we worked with Gehl Architects (the firm behind the Public Space Public Life Study) to pilot a few ideas in order to gather feedback and measure how people use new/modified spaces with the intent that this info informs the neighborhood plans and future streetscape projects.

  • Lighting, seating, and food trucks at Seven Hills Park
  • Cafe seating in the closed slip lane (that’s the separated left turn lane) next to Mike’s and Blue Shirt Cafe
  • Visually connecting the community path with signage and balloons

Please let us know what you did and did not like about the pilot either by using or the hastag #DSQforPeople on social media. In the meantime, we’re crunching the data we collected and continuing to work with Gehl on the public realm chapter of the plan.

Project Materials

Event Presentations

Data Sets

Streetscape Improvement Project

The City of Somerville and its consultant team have been working to design a series of improvements to the square that will offer increased safety, easier wayfinding, and traffic calming improvements for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. This includes upgraded sidewalks and crossings, new signals, better Community Path connectivity, and seating areas.

For the project goals and input documents, click here.

For the latest design scheme, click here.


Davis Square is one of Somerville’s busiest commercial districts. It has not received significant upgrades since the transformative 1984 Davis Square Action Plan which led to the construction of the Community Path, MBTA station, parking lots, and street improvements. The proposed Davis Square Streetscape Improvements, begun with initial public meetings in 2012, have been refined through additional meetings in 2013 and 2014 and directly reflect community input and the goals of the Somervision Comprehensive Plan.  Along with continuing neighborhood planning, these improvements will help ensure continued investment and economic vitality of the square as well as the preservation of its vibrant atmosphere.

Project Timeline and Materials

Planning History


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