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Old 04-24-2013, 08:13 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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And then what about this Spanish town (population 12,000)?

haro rioja - Google Maps
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Old 04-24-2013, 08:33 PM
 
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^^ of those three, that town's main street (square) is by far the most intensely built and used, as well as best arranged.

I would say that SLO's main street would be second (due to its narrow street width and the level of activity), despite it having shorter buildings than the NY state town example.
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Old 04-24-2013, 08:34 PM
 
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Its a word that changes with context.

But for me, mostly when I use urban - it's an adjective that describes the form of a city that provides:

1. structures that give a particular place a "sense of place" - buildings form walls, proportions are such that the area is confined into an outdoor room.

2. A vitality on the street that draws interest.

3. provides for a mix of services, residences, retail and food (groceries, restaurants, corner stores, bars, etc.) such that people can reasonably conduct most of their daily needs on foot or with a very short commute.
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Old 04-25-2013, 07:35 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dweebo2220 View Post
I've noticed a general trend of west coast posters finding "urban" to have more to do with the intensity of use (which would be relatively in keeping with the technical definition), while east coast/midwest posters find "urban" to have more to do with the design/form of infrastructure (this includes the arrangement of buildings to the street, the width of streets, the type/arrangement of transportation networks, etc.). In other words, one definition is more interested in behavior while the other is more interested in form.
That's not accurate at all. As kidphilly has already stated, many of us look at both. Some functional elements, for example, are easier to ascertain than others, such as transit use. That's functional, right? Others are not so easy. But at the end of the day, I think most people are looking at a number of different things, not just one.

If you really wanted to see whether there's bias on the part of "East Coasters," then I recommend that you start a thread in the LA forum and ask, "Which city do you think is more urban: Chicago or LA?" Don't be surprised if many Angelenos say that a large part of what makes Chicago more urban is its built form. And I'm sure they'll also mention transit use, pedestrian-friendliness, observed pedestrians, zoning, etc.

I've made this recommendation before, btw. Why not just ask the question in the LA forum? And don't provide a long preamble. Just ask, "Which city is more urban and why?" And just let the posters answer without trying to dictate discussion. If you create a poll, then make sure we can see who the respondents are.
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Old 04-25-2013, 08:04 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Originally Posted by nei View Post
In short, an urban place or experience is a spot where daily life feels more public.
I don't think it's just about daily life being public, but 24-hour daily life (at least, to the degree feasible).

A downtown which has a lot of employers, but few commercial/social draws may be busy around rush hour, and lunch hour, but otherwise have little street life. In contrast, a much smaller downtown with a lot of shopping and dining can feel much more urban, because people will be active there all times a day.

Similarly, "streetcar suburb" portions of cities often don't feel urban, even if there is a high density, if they don't have a business district, because during regular working hours not too many more people are on the street than would be in a more autocentric suburb.
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Old 04-25-2013, 08:09 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I don't think it's just about daily life being public, but 24-hour daily life (at least, to the degree feasible).

A downtown which has a lot of employers, but few commercial/social draws may be busy around rush hour, and lunch hour, but otherwise have little street life. In contrast, a much smaller downtown with a lot of shopping and dining can feel much more urban, because people will be active there all times a day.

Similarly, "streetcar suburb" portions of cities often don't feel urban, even if there is a high density, if they don't have a business district, because during regular working hours not too many more people are on the street than would be in a more autocentric suburb.
I kinda get what you're saying, but I think that would disqualify a lot of obviously urban areas from that definition.
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Old 04-25-2013, 08:24 AM
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Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
In short, an urban place or experience is a spot where daily life feels more public.
What do you mean by that? What do urbanites do that is more "public"? Not every urban dweller eats out in a restaurant 3 meals a day every day. Nor do I ever see people putting their TVs out in the street in Denver to watch them. Few discipline their kids in public, or do intimate activities in public.
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Old 04-25-2013, 08:32 AM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
What do you mean by that? What do urbanites do that is more "public"? Not every urban dweller eats out in a restaurant 3 meals a day every day. Nor do I ever see people putting their TVs out in the street in Denver to watch them. Few discipline their kids in public, or do intimate activities in public.
I explained in my post earlier. Obviously plenty of activities are still done in private.

What I meant was you'll see more people outside going about their daily business, conversing with others, playing or lounging in a public park, etc.
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Old 04-25-2013, 08:37 AM
Status: "Summer!" (set 20 days ago)
 
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OP, we have discussed your question in the past, although from a different direction. I was going to say we've grappled with it, but that's not true. Everyone has their own ideas, and everyone is right and everyone else is wrong! We have discussed the difference between urban and suburban many times.

According to the census bureau, suburbs are a part of an urban area. But no, no, no, say some on this forum. If you live in a single family house, you're living in the suburbs, even if you live within the city limits! And the suburbs are a different form of life, generally considered a lower form. And so forth.
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Old 04-25-2013, 08:40 AM
 
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Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
That's not accurate at all. As kidphilly has already stated, many of us look at both. Some functional elements, for example, are easier to ascertain than others, such as transit use. That's functional, right? Others are not so easy. But at the end of the day, I think most people are looking at a number of different things, not just one.
I agree 100%, as I agreed with KidPhilly. It was inaccurate for me to call my observation a "general trend." I maybe should have put it that I've noticed a number of debates where the arguments were divided along these lines. And true, most of these have to do with Los Angeles vs. X East Coast/Midwest City, but I've seen similar debates around San Jose.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
If you really wanted to see whether there's bias on the part of "East Coasters," then I recommend that you start a thread in the LA forum and ask, "Which city do you think is more urban: Chicago or LA?" Don't be surprised if many Angelenos say that a large part of what makes Chicago more urban is its built form. And I'm sure they'll also mention transit use, pedestrian-friendliness, observed pedestrians, zoning, etc.

I've made this recommendation before, btw. Why not just ask the question in the LA forum? And don't provide a long preamble. Just ask, "Which city is more urban and why?" And just let the posters answer without trying to dictate discussion. If you create a poll, then make sure we can see who the respondents are.
I'm honestly not trying to "expose a bias." I was just using these two (simplified and maybe inaccurate) perspectives to illustrate the two major variables (as I see it) that affect efficiency and vitality of a city as I see it: form and behavior. The outcome of a city with "good" form and "good' behavior is "good" functionality. Transit use, as you mention, can be a great measure of functionality.

Do you agree with this assessment?
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