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Old 12-13-2016, 02:34 PM
 
Location: Crook County, Illinois
3,528 posts, read 1,616,532 times
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America may not be thousands of years old, but it's old enough to have historic elements in its cities. However, them being cities, they have to continue evolving into today's time and what comes with it.

To use mention examples of cities that do a good job of meshing old and new, I can name two I have personal experience with: New Orleans, LA and Key West, FL. Their main drags, located in the oldest part of the city, are clearly old-looking. The buildings are in an architectural style that's not built anymore, and some even show subtle weathering from being around for over a long time (like tarnishing of bronze or yellowing of limestone). The historic vibe is definitely there. But at the same time, those old parts feel like a real city, even the pedestrian-only streets. There is no sharp divide between a "historic zone" and a "modern zone". Sometimes you even have old and new buildings on the same block, but it still feels like one cohesive area. You see the locals going about their day, for work or for fun. You even see some grit and an urban problem or two. And that's just part of taking the bad with the good, if you want to visit a "real" city.

Another example of good meshing of old and new would be Lower East Side of New York. The area is clearly centuries old, and kept many of its historic sites, like Katz's Deli. But when I visited the neighborhood some years ago, it felt like a gritty, bustling metropolis, not a touristy exhibit on New York's history. While a building or two looked out of place, for the most part, everything looked well-integrated.

Examples of cities that do not do a good job of meshing old and new are harder to name. I've seen historic sites, both in person and on photos, in the midst of a modern-looking area. But those sites didn't really look integrated into the urban fabric. They stood out sharply from their surroundings, almost like a museum exhibit or a theme park, while their surrounding area was a "normal" American city or suburb. I'd say Las Vegas does a poor job at it. Outside of its theme park-like downtown with some museums, everything is modern and sterile.

Certain west suburbs of Chicago are like that, like Naperville. Their downtowns are urban islands of sorts, with a grid layout and some well-maintained historic buildings. I know from personal reading that those areas are over 100 years old. But at the same time, they look almost sterile, as if constructed as replicas, rather than preserved through time. And their surrounding area is your run-of-the-mill bland suburban sprawl, with miles of identical houses with manicured laws, streets that curve every which way, and strip malls of generic chains. The divide between history and sprawl is also quite stark.

So which American cities or neighborhoods do you think do a good job of meshing old and new? And which ones don't? Post your own examples in the replies, along with explanations how so.

Last edited by MillennialUrbanist; 12-13-2016 at 03:39 PM..
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Old 12-13-2016, 03:09 PM
 
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Pittsburgh PA does a good job of mixing the old with the new.
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Old 12-13-2016, 03:17 PM
 
Location: Lil Rhodey
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Boston, Philly
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Old 12-13-2016, 03:17 PM
 
Location: Minneapolis, MN
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I never been from New York but from what my dad and brother said, it seems to fit the bill. I've been to New Orleans and I feel it fits too.

Not too old, but I like how Minneapolis has those old flour mill ruins right in downtown. Cool to see the contrasting architecture.
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Old 12-13-2016, 03:28 PM
 
Location: Baltimore, MD
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Philadelphia, New York City and Boston, as well as many of the satellite cities surrounding them.
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Old 12-13-2016, 03:49 PM
 
Location: Crook County, Illinois
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I agree with the replies above. East Coast cities, as well as New Orleans and Key West, with a long history to speak of, tend to integrate it pretty well. Especially considering that the growth was gradual: from the horse age, to railroad age, to automobile age. The city grew gradually, and reached critical mass early on, before cars took over. Each time period had its own architectural elements that blended in over time.

Last edited by MillennialUrbanist; 12-13-2016 at 04:00 PM..
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Old 12-13-2016, 04:37 PM
_OT
 
Location: Miami
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What exactly are you talking about here?
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Old 12-13-2016, 08:49 PM
 
Location: Crook County, Illinois
3,528 posts, read 1,616,532 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by _OT View Post
What exactly are you talking about here?
I'll treat your question as sincere.

I'm talking about how in some cities, old and new parts look nice together, despite being from vastly different time periods; like the French Quarter in New Orleans or Duval Street in Key West. (Look at them in Google Street View to see what I mean.) In other cities, that's not the case. Growth patterns over the years affect how different architectural styles look together. That is, a city that grows slowly over a long time generally looks nicer, than a city that grows massively in just a few decades.
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Old 12-13-2016, 09:32 PM
 
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Two of the key factors in all of this are a culture of preserving the best of the old stuff including entire districts or strips in some cases, and also a land use code that allows and requires the new stuff to fit with the old.

In some cities, new buildings have been REQUIRED to have setbacks and onsite parking even if amid historic buildings built to the sidewalk. This makes infill suck, to put it simply. Sometimes even a cool commercial-to-housing coversion will have a surface parking lot next to it.
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Old 12-13-2016, 09:42 PM
 
Location: Seattle WA, USA
3,963 posts, read 2,232,999 times
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I think Pioneer Square in Seattle does a pretty good job at meshing new with old.

https://www.google.com/maps/@47.6017...7i13312!8i6656

https://www.google.com/maps/@47.5992...7i13312!8i6656

https://www.google.com/maps/@47.5982...7i13312!8i6656

https://www.google.com/maps/@47.6030...7i13312!8i6656
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