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Old 02-18-2019, 06:15 AM
 
Location: Boston Metrowest (via the Philly area)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marothisu View Post
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.
I definitely get that and wasn't trying to question the many points in favor of a downtown Chicago upward trend. The point about a million fewer people is simply to consider the broader context of population trends citywide in an era where I think downtown was probably a little more relevant to most people. And that goes for every city.

As I said, none of us can truly know how today's foot traffic in our big cities compares to 60 or 70 years ago without specific numbers to examine. But a city like Chicago definitely is among those likeliest to have surpassed that threshold.
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Old 02-18-2019, 07:54 AM
 
Location: Upper West Side, Manhattan, NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duderino View Post
I definitely get that and wasn't trying to question the many points in favor of a downtown Chicago upward trend. The point about a million fewer people is simply to consider the broader context of population trends citywide in an era where I think downtown was probably a little more relevant to most people. And that goes for every city.

As I said, none of us can truly know how today's foot traffic in our big cities compares to 60 or 70 years ago without specific numbers to examine. But a city like Chicago definitely is among those likeliest to have surpassed that threshold.
My broader point is I don't think it was actually more reaching back then - a point I made in that post. Chicago is very much a city of neighborhoods today, but it was even moreso back at its height.

There were big department stores in areas today that are very depopulated - Englewood for example had one of the largest Sears-Roebuck stores in the entire country on 63rd street, a few other big department stores, and tons of retail clothing shops. It was the largest retail district outside of downtown in the entire city and served most of the entire south side for retail - which is where a big percentage of the depopulating of the city happened along with the west side. Today, they don't have this luxury as there's no big stores (apart from a few Targets and KMart) in the south side really - meaning all those people who could have just popped into an area like Englewood for all their shopping needs (or Roseland) pretty much have to go downtown if they want to shop outside of a few Targets and KMarts today. Also, as there were a lot more people in these areas back then, there was also more entertainment. While there are still theatres, bars, restaurants, etc in these areas - again it pales in comparison to what it once was. You'll see a lot more people coming downtown for their entertainment whereas back in the day they didn't necessarily need to travel downtown to get that at all.

There was obviously a lot back then, and there's obviously more retail districts than downtown today still but it was a lot more widespread back in the day in the neighborhoods in a way that made people not need to actually come downtown. Less people had to come downtown for shopping or your regular entertainment - and there are simply more attractions today than there were back then and a good number more people living there to begin with along with millions of more tourists per year. Believe it or not, there are actually tons of people in Chicago mainly on the south and west sides who have never been downtown who are in their 50s or older. They actually have no idea downtown is a thing today - my friend is a public defender in Chicago and has told me he's gotten his fair share of people like this who have never been downtown once in their entire lives. Why? A lot of them grew up in an era of the city where downtown wasn't nearly as important as it is today and they never felt the need to go there because they had everything they needed inside or closer to their neighborhood. Today it's not the same and downtown is a much bigger draw for people from all over the city.

Last edited by marothisu; 02-18-2019 at 08:03 AM..
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Old 02-18-2019, 08:27 AM
 
Location: New York City
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Philadelphia is still shy of its population peak in the 1950s, but the downtown (Center City) is closing in on capacity as open land continues to get developed. I would say Center City is certainly at or close to hustle / bustle peak, which is great.

Now the task is to increase that investment and activity outside of the core into adjacent neighborhoods.
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Old 02-18-2019, 09:19 AM
 
Location: In the heights
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the topper View Post
Downtowns better today than in the 50's: NY, Chi, SF and Philly
Philadelphia has a really great downtown. My guess is that Center City at its most bustling was greater than downtown San Francisco is today, but current Center City isn't as busy as past Center City. There might be skyscapers here which there otherwise were not, but there's also the center of retail having shifted out especially to King-of-Prussia, jobs moved to suburbs, commuter rail having been cut back quite a bit, the expressways cutting off North Philadelphia and the waterfront, some parking lots being created and North Philadelphia neighborhoods going through some serious issues.
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Old 02-18-2019, 11:03 AM
 
2,913 posts, read 1,619,645 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OyCrumbler View Post
Philadelphia has a really great downtown. My guess is that Center City at its most bustling was greater than downtown San Francisco is today, but current Center City isn't as busy as past Center City. There might be skyscapers here which there otherwise were not, but there's also the center of retail having shifted out especially to King-of-Prussia, jobs moved to suburbs, commuter rail having been cut back quite a bit, the expressways cutting off North Philadelphia and the waterfront, some parking lots being created and North Philadelphia neighborhoods going through some serious issues.
Thanks for the clarity
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Old 02-18-2019, 11:05 AM
 
2,913 posts, read 1,619,645 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the topper View Post
Downtowns better today than in the 50's: NY, Chi, SF and Philly
Cross out Philly. All other cities above are more vibrant today.
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Old 02-18-2019, 11:15 AM
 
Location: In the heights
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the topper View Post
Thanks for the clarity
Yea! The good thing is that Philadelphia as a whole is on an upwards trajectory after a half century of population loss and there are a lot of new developments that have occurred or are slated to happen in Center City. They’re capping the freeway cutting off the waterfront, the Barnes museum is now downtown, and there are some massive high-rises in Center City now. It would take relatively little to greatly boost downtown such as capping the Vine Street expressway, developing the surface lots that do exist in Center City, and making the regional rail commuter system take advantage of its electrification and through-running tunnel to make it more like the DC metro / BART while re-extending its reach piece by piece. These are all fairly attainable in the near future.

Another downtown that can reach its former peak levels of hustle and bustle in a relatively short time period is downtown Los Angeles. The parking lots are still pretty prevalent in parts, but those have been gobbled up for high-rise development at a pretty rapid clip and meanwhile there has been substantial transit investment. If that continues, and especially if parking minimums are done away with or minimized, then the usual textbook case of US sprawling, car-centric development might within a decade or two become the textbook case of how that pendulum can swing back.

Last edited by OyCrumbler; 02-18-2019 at 11:27 AM..
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Old Yesterday, 12:34 PM
 
Location: In the heights
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One potentially unexpected contender is downtown Pittsburgh / the Golden Triangle. Pittsburgh itself has seen some precipitous population decline and freeway construction and urban renewal has it cut off to its east, but downtown Pittsburgh itself didn't have a highway driven through its core nor is it marked with seas of surface parking lots. The loss of many corporate headquarters in the latter half of the 20th century and manufacturing jobs were tough for the region, but the number of jobs within the Golden Triangle essentially stayed the same from during the mid-20th century and meanwhile downtown Pittsburgh has seen a substantial increase in its population in recent years.

Factors like the decades of population decline within the city as a whole and the loss of high-end shopping in major department stores in the Golden Triangle offsets some of this, but there's probably a reasonable case to be made for downtown Pittsburgh, if not now, then fairly soon as downtown converts the last of its empty historic commercial high-rises for other uses, increasing interest in downtown pittsburgh converts the few surface lots remaining, and projects like the coming freeway cap park tries to remedy the missteps of the past.

I think parts of what helped kept downtown Pittsburgh intact when many downtowns across the US fell apart were the land uses that would have made surface parking lots take up an inordinate proportion of the downtown as the downtown is geographically very constrained as well as the building of the subway system (which only a small portion of it was in existence during the 1940s/50s) and bus transitway which allowed downtown to remain accessible by means other than private automobile.

Last edited by OyCrumbler; Yesterday at 01:07 PM..
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Old Yesterday, 03:22 PM
 
Location: Denver, Colorado
3,061 posts, read 3,789,460 times
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Downtown Portland and Seattle are much more cosmopolitan than people think. They are cities that actually have a large number of people who live, shop and play in the downtown. Portland's downtown actually felt more lively to me than even downtown Seattle. One problem with downtown Seattle is it is built on very large hills and hard to walk around. However, with all the large number of apartment complexes being built there, the downtown has become much more lively around 1st and 2nd ave. Both cities have very lively and affluent neighborhoods adjacent to the downtown that makes the downtowns more lively, such as Pearl District in Portland and Belltown and Capitol Hill in Seattle.

As far as it being like the 40s and 50s.. Well, I cannot say so, because the large numbers of mentally ill people, homeless people and drug addicts kind of take away that early to mid 20th century charm.


I was pretty shocked at how dead is downtown Denver. Downtown Denver is literally like a ghost town after 9:00PM. Even on the weekends it is not too lively.
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Old Yesterday, 03:39 PM
 
Location: New York City
5,243 posts, read 4,771,909 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RotseCherut View Post
Downtown Portland and Seattle are much more cosmopolitan than people think. They are cities that actually have a large number of people who live, shop and play in the downtown. Portland's downtown actually felt more lively to me than even downtown Seattle. One problem with downtown Seattle is it is built on very large hills and hard to walk around. However, with all the large number of apartment complexes being built there, the downtown has become much more lively around 1st and 2nd ave. Both cities have very lively and affluent neighborhoods adjacent to the downtown that makes the downtowns more lively, such as Pearl District in Portland and Belltown and Capitol Hill in Seattle.

As far as it being like the 40s and 50s.. Well, I cannot say so, because the large numbers of mentally ill people, homeless people and drug addicts kind of take away that early to mid 20th century charm.


I was pretty shocked at how dead is downtown Denver. Downtown Denver is literally like a ghost town after 9:00PM. Even on the weekends it is not too lively.
Seattle and Portland are doing very well from a dense urban, live/work/play standpoint. They are newer cities (compared to the big dense East Coast cities), yet they provide solid downtown's that are far ahead of other "newer" cities (Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Denver, Phoenix, etc.)

I agree with Denver. I think the scenery is beautiful and the city has come a long way, but I find it to be a bit overrated for what if offered when I visited. Kind of hyped up like Austin and DC, but not as much going on.
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