The Commons is the center of Ithaca and Tompkins County civic life, serving as the main community meeting space. The City and Town Hall abut the Commons, and the local state representatives have their offices on or adjacent to it. Many of the stores have apartments on their second and third floors. During the summer months, local entertainers and theater groups put on free performances at the 3 covered pavilions on the Commons. The stages are also utilized for many politically inspired protests and speeches.
The Commons hosts several festivals throughout the year. The main festival, the Ithaca Festival in the summer, is centered on the Commons for 2 of its three days. Traditionally, the final day of the festival is at Stewart Park on the Cayuga Lake waterfront. Two relatively new festivals which have found a home on the Commons are the Apple Harvest Festival in the Fall and Chili Cook-Off in the Winter.
The Sagan Planet Walk, named after famed Cornell University astronomer Carl Sagan, begins in the Commons and stretches 3/4 mile from the Commons through downtown Ithaca to the Sciencenter. The Planet Walk traces a to-scale path of the solar system, including colorful pictures and facts about the planets.
The Commons (Green Street) is also the main hub for the Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) bus network. With a few exceptions, most routes originate/ terminate at or stop at Green Street, which is also a frequent connection point between the various routes.
See a live view of the "Bernie Milton Pavilion" in the center of the Commons on the Commons Cam website.