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Old 02-17-2019, 09:36 PM
 
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Memphis in 1940's!! Downtown Memphis, 1940s - Budget Films
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Old 02-17-2019, 09:40 PM
 
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Lastly, take a look at Downtown Detroit in 1940's:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTL5l-VWe_8
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Old 02-17-2019, 09:42 PM
 
Location: Boston Metrowest (via the Philly area)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justabystander View Post
Sorry about most of some of your friends blowing up like sausages btw.........walk in NYC and Chicago and you will find some lean bacon people who still get around by foot.
To your point regarding increases in employment, tourism and downtown condos/apts, etc., certainly that's boosted many cities, including those such as Chicago, from their nadir in the 70s/80s/90s, but I think we're much all hazier on just how many more people "packed it in" in many cities' downtowns in the first half of the 20th Century. Consider the fact that Chicago proper today is still shy of a million residents as compared 1950. That's a lot less potential foot traffic.

Also, I can't think of better examples of "bubbles" than big city downtowns today, regarding demographic features like educational attainment, income, and even obesity. We're as micro-divided by geography as ever before. Clearly the average resident of "the Loop" is going to be quite different from that of the South Side. Similar to the Upper East Side, and, say, Staten Island.
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Old 02-17-2019, 10:09 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duderino View Post
To your point regarding increases in employment, tourism and downtown condos/apts, etc., certainly that's boosted many cities, including those such as Chicago, from their nadir in the 70s/80s/90s, but I think we're much all hazier on just how many more people "packed it in" in many cities' downtowns in the first half of the 20th Century. Consider the fact that Chicago proper today is still shy of a million residents as compared 1950. That's a lot less potential foot traffic.

Also, I can't think of better examples of "bubbles" than big city downtowns today, regarding demographic features like educational attainment, income, and even obesity. We're as micro-divided by geography as ever before. Clearly the average resident of "the Loop" is going to be quite different from that of the South Side. Similar to the Upper East Side, and, say, Staten Island.
I think it’s important to note that 1) a lot more of those people where Children and this relatively rarely downtown compared to workers and 2) more suburban commuters than in 1950
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Old 02-17-2019, 10:17 PM
 
Location: In the heights
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Originally Posted by supermanpansy View Post
I'm not sure any of them do anymore. At least at their peak. Obviously, NYC, Chicago, San Fran, Philly, Boston, etc. still have a lot of foot traffic, but probably not as much as at their peak. With people staying in their house in the tech age, plus the growth of sprawl and suburbs, and malls. I would venture to say none of them are like they used to be. Not if the population stayed the same. If a city grew, it might feel like it has a lot of foot traffic. But that would just be growth. I'm not sure per rate, that downtowns will ever be like their peaks. Plus, American's are fatter than ever because of technology. I'm not. I make it a point to not become a vegetable, but boy I got friends who blew up like sausages. Perhaps, I am to antsy for that. NY might seem like it, but even NYC probably lost a lot of people moving around due to technology. Many people sit around too much and play on the computer. I like to go to cities and explore, but I don't find a lot of people are out and about unless it's a really large city or a hip college town. Outside of that, many downtowns are dead.
Right, people can order stuff online for home delivery and the big box stores and having cars means that people can pick up large amounts of things from one place rather than shop downtown. Many cities's downtown and neighboring populations have have also not recovered from the drop that hit most cities of significant size from the 50s onwards even for those whose total population has increased. A lot of freeways destroyed or split up parts of downtowns or cut downtown off from adjacent dense urban neighborhoods. The single biggest hit is probably the loss of buildings, sometimes densely built multilevel buildings that aren't necessarily high-rises, for parking which simply needs a hell of a lot of space.

There are some potential counter trends that might make things busier than they otherwise would be. One is if downtown remained or grew as a major employment and entertainment center while the metropolitan population kept on growing, then there's a much larger commuter population that it's drawing from especially if it had a large commuter transit network that didn't necessitate the destruction of buildings for parking lots. There's also the greater ubiquity of high-rise construction which allows for a lot of density and aren't bad for walkability if they have an active street level and aren't built as towers with corporate lawns and/or parking everywhere. There's also the growing recent trend of having downtown living whether in new high-rises or conversions of former office buildings which can bring a greater nighttime and weekend vibrancy. Finally, there's the greater ubiquity of travel both foreign and domestic which means that popular tourist cities where that tourism includes the downtown area probably see a lot of tourist foot traffic.

My guesses for what are decent bets for the latter making up for anything from the former are NYC, SF, and DC. Some other possibilities are Chicago, Boston, Seattle, and Portland and maybe a few more. It also depends a bit on where we're starting to make the in the 1940s and 1950s. Boston, for example, destroyed its West End neighborhood and ran an elevated freeway through a large portion of the downtown area during the mid to late 50s, so if we use 1959 as the comparison point, well then, downtown now is looking pretty good! It's a tough one as the first half of the 1940s was the war so the cities were quite different than what they "normally" would have been but the downtowns didn't have much time to destroy or build much at that point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mezter View Post
Wow, Dallas looked like this? That's crazy.
I think virtually every single mid to major downtown area in the US was seemingly packed in that time period and probably the small towns as well.

Last edited by OyCrumbler; 02-17-2019 at 11:30 PM..
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Old 02-18-2019, 12:16 AM
 
Location: Upper West Side, Manhattan, NYC
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Originally Posted by Duderino View Post
Consider the fact that Chicago proper today is still shy of a million residents as compared 1950. That's a lot less potential foot traffic.

Consider the fact that downtown Chicago is at least 30,000 people greater in population than in 1950, and the employment is a lot more downtown too (hell, the employment of the central area of Chicago is almost 135,000 jobs greater today than 2010). Also consider the fact that there's hundreds more buildings downtown today in Chicago than the 1950s and hundreds more residential buildings too along with more retail/commercial businesses. I wasn't around in the 40s or 50s, and back then was busy in downtown Chicago but from all the pictures and videos I've seen, downtown today is probably as busy if not moreso than back then.

You also have to understand that with that 1+ million population loss meant that back then, there was even more retail in areas that are today depopulated - Englewood, Garfield Park, Austin, etc. While downtown was the largest commercial district back then, there were a ton of people who didn't have to step foot downtown because there were actually some of the same stores in other neighborhoods. Areas like Englewood were huge retail districts back then (today of course - incredibly different). There were also not as many attractions for people to partake in back then - there was no Millennium Park in the 1950s - it was a gigantic parking lot back then. There was no riverwalk - although yes people were at the beach. The city was a bit different park then as it is today. Downtown was busy from everything I've heard and seen obviously, but to think that it's not as much today is ridiculous - especially considering that downtown Chicago today has something like 30,000 more people than it did in the 1950s when the city had 1 million more people.

There's more to a story of a city than just 1 population number - especially when that city has nearly 3 million people. Not everywhere in it actually lost population.
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Old 02-18-2019, 01:46 AM
 
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My take: downtowns fully came back- NY, SF, Chi, Boston, Philly, Seattle, Portland, and Boise, Id
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Old 02-18-2019, 01:48 AM
 
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Downtowns better today than in the 50's: NY, Chi, SF and Philly
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Old 02-18-2019, 03:42 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
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Austin has a bustling downtown and surrounding areas. There are thousands of people out day and night downtown, along SoCO, S Lamar, West Campus, and E 6th.
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Old 02-18-2019, 03:50 AM
 
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Seattle comes to mind as a city that probably has a busier downtown than in the 40s/50s. I would think some of the sunbelt cities that have seen explosive growth might be busier than in the 40s/50s: Denver, Austin, Charlotte, Nashville, San Diego. There obviously aren't as central to the msas as they might have been back then and probably in most cases have less retail. But, the areas have seen such explosive growth since that time they might feel bigger and busier in their cores.
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