U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Urban Planning
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 05-09-2014, 08:14 AM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

Over $104,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum and additional contests are planned
 
Location: Long Island / NYC
45,990 posts, read 41,989,613 times
Reputation: 14810

Advertisements

Quote:
Originally Posted by augiedogie View Post
Main Streets started to die when the shopping centers and then the malls opened in the fringes of towns and cities. Essentially, bring the stores to the neighborhoods where people lived. Then, no more requirement to go downtown to go shopping, to the bank, get gas.
That's only if people live in the fringes rather the center or the center isn't the convenient for everyone. Out here, people here are either:

1) Concentrated around old towns
2) Scattered low density, semi-rural, or actually rural areas.

The new shopping centers and malls open on thru roads where people drive by but few people live. The closest mall has literally no people nearby, it's adjacent to farmland. But most people in the towns already drive. My bank places it's branch about 1 mile north of the center of town. It's a pain to walk to, but easier for most to drive to.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 05-09-2014, 08:19 AM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

Over $104,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum and additional contests are planned
 
Location: Long Island / NYC
45,990 posts, read 41,989,613 times
Reputation: 14810
Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I half agree with this. Small town shopping districts for the most part had a major strike against them - that very few people usually lived within a reasonable walking distance. They were set up as walkable because in the era they were built out few people had other options.
The other issue is scale. For the small towns the OP posted, larger businesses that could draw from a larger population did better. The Main Street serving 3000 people can rely on the locals as a captive audience pre-automobile. Afterwards, locals were free to travel around. This is mainly for rural areas.

Quote:
Urban shopping districts should have survived fine in contrast. Even with decreasing urban population density, there were still thousands of people within walking distance. However, mid-century urban planning did actively kill them.
Maybe but urban shopping districts are generally larger. Even with higher densities, they needed a customer base of much of the city not just those within walking distance to downtown. The urban renewal plans you mentioned were definitely unhelpful, though.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-09-2014, 09:32 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,426 posts, read 11,933,106 times
Reputation: 10539
Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
The other issue is scale. For the small towns the OP posted, larger businesses that could draw from a larger population did better. The Main Street serving 3000 people can rely on the locals as a captive audience pre-automobile. Afterwards, locals were free to travel around. This is mainly for rural areas.
I've seen the point raised that in a lot of ways the mid-to-late 20th century showed a backwards move when it came to customer service, insofar as the customer willingly took on the last step in the distribution chain. Back in the old days, it was up to the company to get products very close to you, which they did through door-to-door salesmen, home delivery, and (when these didn't work) local main streets. Once the car came along, companies realized that people were willing to drive more to pay less. While this was partially unconscious with the first stage of suburban retail, big box stores and outlet malls took it to the logical conclusion, essentially setting up distribution warehouses which functioned as retail stores. And lo and behold, people showed up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Maybe but urban shopping districts are generally larger. Even with higher densities, they needed a customer base of much of the city not just those within walking distance to downtown. The urban renewal plans you mentioned were definitely unhelpful, though.
True enough. But the urban retail districts which survived the bad days of urban renewal began recovering in the late 20th century. As we discussed in another thread, downtown department stores seem dead in all but a handful of American cities, but there's plenty of commercial activity going on in both upscale and downscale commercial districts, albeit focused more these days on bars and restaurants. If instead of being urban renewed, they were allowed to go through a period of slow decline over 30 years or so, they'd in many cases be reasonably intact and fairly well utilized today.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-09-2014, 12:24 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

Over $104,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum and additional contests are planned
 
Location: Long Island / NYC
45,990 posts, read 41,989,613 times
Reputation: 14810
Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I've seen the point raised that in a lot of ways the mid-to-late 20th century showed a backwards move when it came to customer service, insofar as the customer willingly took on the last step in the distribution chain. Back in the old days, it was up to the company to get products very close to you, which they did through door-to-door salesmen, home delivery, and (when these didn't work) local main streets.
I'm not sure why that's backwards. The methods you describe for the old days are labor-intensive and costly, all ones that price-conscious shoppers would avoid. It seems a natural progression.

Quote:
True enough. But the urban retail districts which survived the bad days of urban renewal began recovering in the late 20th century. As we discussed in another thread, downtown department stores seem dead in all but a handful of American cities, but there's plenty of commercial activity going on in both upscale and downscale commercial districts, albeit focused more these days on bars and restaurants. If instead of being urban renewed, they were allowed to go through a period of slow decline over 30 years or so, they'd in many cases be reasonably intact and fairly well utilized today.
It's just bars and restaurants, it's more of an entertainment district than a shopping districts. Plenty of shopping is in smaller shops rather than department stores (including in malls). Years ago, I assumed one of the main points of a center city was to be a large shopping district, with high volume based on centralization and economies of scale. Downtowns that didn't have that sounded like they must be failed downtowns. In any case, if you want to discuss successful center city shopping, it might be more useful and interesting to bring non-US examples (why is this forum so US-focused?)

But this thread is more for small towns rather than large cities, so save that for another thread.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-09-2014, 02:26 PM
 
56,640 posts, read 80,952,685 times
Reputation: 12518
Here is a main street not too far from me that has good bones, but seems to have seen better days: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=johns...,298.48,,0,1.8
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-09-2014, 06:42 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 21 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,011 posts, read 102,621,396 times
Reputation: 33075
Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I half agree with this. Small town shopping districts for the most part had a major strike against them - that very few people usually lived within a reasonable walking distance. They were set up as walkable because in the era they were built out few people had other options. People first took the horse & buggy into town from the outlying areas, then they took streetcars (which existed even in many small towns in the 19th century), then later buses. But once cars became commonplace enough, it was far less of a hassle to drive to an outlying shopping center than to head into town where parking was scarce and stores were smaller. So in the small towns, business districts died more out of benign neglect than anything.

Urban shopping districts should have survived fine in contrast. Even with decreasing urban population density, there were still thousands of people within walking distance. However, mid-century urban planning did actively kill them. For example, downtowns tended to be isolated through "urban renewal." Basically the entire downtown residential population was forced out in many cities, and a "moat" was often made in the surrounding neighborhoods of parking lots and industrial businesses, so that people from the closest residential neighborhoods would need to walk twenty minutes or more to get to the CBD. Outlying secondary commercial areas were often ruined in an effort to compete with shopping malls as well, with similar "seas of parking" separating them from the surrounding area. Urban business districts were thus actively killed in many cases.



Reviving downtown through strictly commercial is a fool's errand in the modern era. If you're going to be serious about a downtown revival, it has to be mixed-use, involving both residential and commercial properties. Residents within walking distance means, for example, you don't have to worry about ample parking if you're a local business, because half (or whatever) of you customer base literally just strolls in. Some walkable main streets can survive in the modern era even with only a few hundred people in walking distance, but these tend to be the exception rather than the rule, and are found in more "touristy" locales.
Do you have any examples of this? And to accuse people of actively, deliberately "killing" downtowns, as in, let's get rid of these downtown shopping areas, is quite a stretch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I've seen the point raised that in a lot of ways the mid-to-late 20th century showed a backwards move when it came to customer service, insofar as the customer willingly took on the last step in the distribution chain. Back in the old days, it was up to the company to get products very close to you, which they did through door-to-door salesmen, home delivery, and (when these didn't work) local main streets. Once the car came along, companies realized that people were willing to drive more to pay less. While this was partially unconscious with the first stage of suburban retail, big box stores and outlet malls took it to the logical conclusion, essentially setting up distribution warehouses which functioned as retail stores. And lo and behold, people showed up.



True enough. But the urban retail districts which survived the bad days of urban renewal began recovering in the late 20th century. As we discussed in another thread, downtown department stores seem dead in all but a handful of American cities, but there's plenty of commercial activity going on in both upscale and downscale commercial districts, albeit focused more these days on bars and restaurants. If instead of being urban renewed, they were allowed to go through a period of slow decline over 30 years or so, they'd in many cases be reasonably intact and fairly well utilized today.
The former was as welcome as the telephone solicitors of today. When I was a very young woman, there still were door-to-door salesmen (and they were mostly men) running around, talking people into buying things they didn't want just to get rid of them. The latter is still available, for a price.

Last edited by Katarina Witt; 05-09-2014 at 07:30 PM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-09-2014, 08:29 PM
 
Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle
6,473 posts, read 11,105,609 times
Reputation: 3117
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Do you have any examples of this? And to accuse people of actively, deliberately "killing" downtowns, as in, let's get rid of these downtown shopping areas, is quite a stretch.
That is clearly not what eschoton is saying. You are arguing against a point nobody has made. The mere mention of the word kill does imply anything active or deliberate.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-09-2014, 09:59 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

Over $104,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum and additional contests are planned
 
Location: Long Island / NYC
45,990 posts, read 41,989,613 times
Reputation: 14810
Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
Urban shopping districts should have survived fine in contrast. Even with decreasing urban population density, there were still thousands of people within walking distance. However, mid-century urban planning did actively kill them. For example, downtowns tended to be isolated through "urban renewal." Basically the entire downtown residential population was forced out in many cities, and a "moat" was often made in the surrounding neighborhoods of parking lots and industrial businesses, so that people from the closest residential neighborhoods would need to walk twenty minutes or more to get to the CBD. Outlying secondary commercial areas were often ruined in an effort to compete with shopping malls as well, with similar "seas of parking" separating them from the surrounding area. Urban business districts were thus actively killed in many cases.
Even before urban renewal, many American downtowns were already rather isolated from residential neighborhoods. Great Lakes region and other industrial cities tend to be the most isolated, with the commercial downtown surrounded by factories. Check the maps I posted on the Urban Density Comparisons thread if you haven't already:

Urban Density Comparisons

Cleveland appears to be the most isolated, others are not so isolated. You can see how much downtown residential within walking distance change.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Do you have any examples of this? And to accuse people of actively, deliberately "killing" downtowns, as in, let's get rid of these downtown shopping areas, is quite a stretch.
Again, he didn't say deliberately kill downtown shopping areas. The deliberate part was removing all the residential in walking distance, which had the unintended consequence of weakening or killing off the downtown. At least that's his argument, I disagree because I don't think a large city downtown can rely on just local customers.

Malloric has mentioned Sacramento, if I followed his posts correctly, where the residential population was removed for redevelopment of new office buildings and parking. As for smaller towns, the commercial area around Huntington Station was umm, actively removed. The idea was to put new shopping, I think, but it didn't work out. Instead, there is just parking garages. So the downtown was actively destroyed, but it wasn't really the intended result.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-10-2014, 09:15 AM
 
Location: Portland, Maine
457 posts, read 437,503 times
Reputation: 253
Most of the towns near me have some restaurants and small specialty shops downtown that I go to relatively frequently but tend to be focused towards tourists. There is a small grocery store either in downtown or next to downtown in the three largest towns with range from 9,000 people to 13,000 people. Not all downtowns are totally dead; however two of them are more geared towards artists and have a both theatre and visual arts production as the main feature. The other town is home to a college which helps it maintain an active downtown with a mix of clothing stores, a pharmacy, a movie theater, and some other small shops.

White River Jct. VT- http://goo.gl/maps/R3nPW

Grocery store across the river from downtown- http://goo.gl/maps/TSo8H

Lebanon NH- http://goo.gl/maps/sGY6U

Hanover NH- http://goo.gl/maps/hMBPM

http://goo.gl/maps/4enum

This is the grocery store just outside downtown- http://goo.gl/maps/16akb
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 05-10-2014, 09:44 AM
 
2,684 posts, read 2,929,662 times
Reputation: 1208
It isn't just small towns. A few large cities are in the same fix. The shops and department stores are gone. The nice restaurants are gone. Is it partly that we want our shopping areas removed from our living areas? Whenever we hear of a developer wanting to put a shopping mall or even just a small strip of shops near residences, we quickly hear from the NMBY people. They will drive miles to buy groceries, never considering the cost of gas spent to get there. I once lived in a city that was planning a new community development. The homes would be suburban, circular around a center for businesses and shops. There would be the necessary circular streets, of course. And then there would be direct-line streets to downtown. Large enough to support businesses but small enough to be convenient. It never happened. I'd give a lot for a town like that.

Just dreaming, I am.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Urban Planning
Similar Threads
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top