They could have been a quirky play on the name Domino Park. But the large, painted circles — spaced six feet apart — on the grass of one of New York City’s newest sunbathing spots serve a very specific purpose.
Park goers were pictured lazing in circles over the weekend at Domino Park, a five-acre recreational area on the Brooklyn waterfront that features fountains, a fog bridge, and courts for bocce and beach volleyball.
It’s built on the site of the old Domino Sugar Refinery, which dates back to 1856 and at one point produced most of America’s refined sugar.
Opened in 2018, Domino Park includes design features that reference its former use as a sugar refinery. Credit: Courtesy Domino Park/Daniel Levin
Residents of New York City are still being advised to stay home if possible, and wear a face mask if they have to go out.
Privately-owned Domino Park is not managed by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, which is why the circles haven’t appeared across the city.
Domino Park on May 17, 2020. Credit: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images
But the park is not alone in its use of simple geometric shapes to change human behavior.
In the last few months, circles, crosses and lines have appeared in shops, post offices, restaurants, cafes and other businesses as part of experimental measures to encourage people to stay at least six feet — or 1.5 meters — apart, depending on the country.
Never before have there been so many design cues on where we can and can’t sit, stand or line up.
Roads are changing, too. Temporary bike lanes have been created in cities like Berlin, Paris, Melbourne and Bogota to help cyclists keep their distance and ease cramped public transport. And some streets have opened to pedestrians in place of cars.
Berlin added more cycle paths during the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images
Some of these measures will likely disappear when — and if — Covid-19 is brought under control. Others will be become permanent fixtures.
Domino Park is located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
It’s not known how long the circles will remain in Domino Park, but the message to park goers is clear: keep your distance.