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Old 04-06-2013, 10:24 PM
 
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
When I was thinking of low-height urban, I was thinking more of this, which happens to be the neighborhood my maternal grandmother grew up in.
it looks like the Nightmare On Elm Street.

joking aside, that street doesn't look or feel urban to me at all. mostly because there's no street-level shopping so the streets look very dead and deserted. one of the inherent qualities of urbanism--street life --appears to be nonexistent. and the buildings look really run-down and shoddily built like they were meant to be some sort of army barracks or slum housing projects. it looks pretty terrible.
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Old 04-07-2013, 08:48 AM
 
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That probably is a low income housing area now. And I don't always equate urbanity with active street life as a place can still be walkable and not get as much foot traffic as some place in Brooklyn for example.
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Old 04-07-2013, 08:57 AM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Octa View Post
That probably is a low income housing area now. And I don't always equate urbanity with active street life as a place can still be walkable and not get as much foot traffic as some place in Brooklyn for example.
It's working-class, not really poor by Philly standards. Median income $37k/year. Almost entirely white, and according to wikipedia. I'd guess only residents walk on that street.

The street looks a bit bleak, though it might look better if sunny.
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Old 04-07-2013, 09:26 AM
 
Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle
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Or painted brightly. Though probably garish to some, a row of bright houses can liven up an otherwise unappealing street.

brentwood ave baltimore - Google Maps

lanvale st baltimore - Google Maps
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Old 04-07-2013, 09:33 AM
 
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Structural density.
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Old 04-07-2013, 11:31 AM
 
Location: Norfolk, VA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
In my own experience, while many sunbelt cities are developing dense central business districts, and midrise areas surrounding them, the actual urban feel of such areas is often lacking. A lot of this has to do with placement of the buildings themselves. Generally speaking the mistakes of the "towers in a park" era have not been repeated, and true high rises are well-positioned on plots, but many downtowns still have too much surface parking, which really detracts from the urban feel. Mid-density areas often still have residential with parking in the front, or significant setbacks, which really detracts from urban feel as well.

In contrast, areas which are very low height can feel quite urban. Many traditional rowhouse neighborhoods in east coast cities have large swathes which are two-story flat-roof structures. Despite the overall low height, the narrow streets, zero setback, and attached housing status creates a quite urban feel. Even single-story structures can create an urban feel if properly placed (e.g., components of the French Quarter in New Orleans).

That said, I wonder if other people, particularly those who grew up in the Sun Belt, have different conceptions of urbanity? I have noticed people from the South often equate urban with big highrises, regardless of street feel.

Thoughts?
Structural Density. Height is overrated. Cities like Washington DC, Baltimore, Boston, and Philadelphia come to mind.
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Old 04-07-2013, 11:36 AM
 
Location: Norfolk, VA
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Originally Posted by kidphilly View Post
To me this type may be the example discussed

Century City, LA, CA - Google Maps
Somehow that reminds me of Northern Virginia.
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Old 04-07-2013, 11:45 AM
 
Location: Norfolk, VA
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Originally Posted by Komeht View Post
Yup. I see this a LOT around here. The buildings going up in the last decade are better (not brilliant) but much better than the disaster of the previous 50 years. But there are SOOO many surface parking garages that there are only a few cohesive pockets. An observant person would notice in about 15 minutes exactly what is happening. You get a little pocket of urbanity maybe for a block or two, then a surface parking lot - and it just kills everything. No one walks to the next block even though there may be a few things of interest because no one will cross the parking lot willingly.

This cannot be stressed enough and it is something NIMBY's especially don't get. Urbanity needs to be contiguous to be successful. One dead block will absolutely kill a street unless there is something extraordinary on the other side (extremely rare).

NIMBY's often think a compromise is "we'll let you build on this block, but you can't touch the next block". That kind of compromise kills cities. There is no point in it. For cities to be successful you must have continuous activity and interest that keeps drawing people down the next block. A dead zone, whether it is a parking lot, a dangerous housing project, or featureless wall or some other kind of blight has far reaching effects.
Or perhaps they do get it, and that is why it happens. You don't get the urban environment you're looking for, and they still get to keep their suburban paradise, somewhat. Collateral damage, because if a truly urban area was allowed they couldn't live there anymore.
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Old 04-07-2013, 01:43 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
It's working-class, not really poor by Philly standards. Median income $37k/year. Almost entirely white, and according to wikipedia.
Ethnic white -- Polish, mostly. Doesn't matter in a lot of places, matters a lot in Port Richmond.

Quote:
The street looks a bit bleak, though it might look better if sunny.
Alas, Port Richmond always looks bleak. My theory is the residents like it that way.

But of course it's urban. Street life is not an inherent property of urban development. Cities are not and have never been street after street of shops with apartments above them.
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