Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Introduction to Urban Design & Planning

One good way to get ideas for our area, is to look at what other cities are doing.  New York City.  Remember back when it was completely crime ridden?  Or if you're too young, how every movie in NYC made/taken place in the 70s & 80s made it look dangerous and not like somewhere you want to visit?  Well go watch The Warriors, Ghostbusters, American Gangster or something!  NYC has drastically stepped up their game!  But how?  Check out this video about public space and the revision of the NYC zoning and design code (I realize it's long, and I might find it more interesting than you, but the guy is good with humor, and they even mention Charles Square right here in Bmore):

whyte styles from chris woebken on Vimeo.
William H. Whyte's classic film studying how people use urban spaces.
It's kind of funny to hear him rag on Bryant Park back in the day, and to see how far it's come!

Here's another way NYC stepped up their game:
Broken Window Theory

 If you get a chance, check out other cities' examples.  Even if it's just their community group websites!  See what they're doing to succeed!  It's such a great way to get ideas.  And because they're in another state, we won't be stepping on any toes like I was worried about over at Union Square.  A favorite example of mine is Philadelphia, specifically Manayunk.  It's a college town, mind you, but it's a former industrial area that still holds a good locals population.  An acquaintance through a mutual friend once told me that he did a total nerd-filled analysis of major urban cities, complete with spread sheet, and he concluded that Philly had the greatest quality of life while maintaining a low cost of living.  I think that's the sort of thing all cities should strive for! 

Note: I'm sure there were many other factors that contributed to New York City and Philadelphia's success as post-industrial cities that I've left out.  It would take an entire novel to cover them though.  You wouldn't read it right now, and I wouldn't write it for free.

I just hope this gets some momentum going in the community, and gets your wheels a turnin'!

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