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Old 12-01-2014, 07:10 PM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Oh whoops. I meant to include Chicago in that group. Fixed.
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Old 12-01-2014, 09:26 PM
 
Location: Ak-Rowdy, OH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wburg View Post
But the indoor mall has still seen new construction in the past 20 years, and even new malls planned and under construction; what we're seeing more recently is the abandonment of older suburban malls in favor of new suburban malls that are farther out on the suburban/exurban frontier. The business model for suburbs, commercial or residential, is disposability: the outer suburb on the urban fringe is, theoretically, the most desirable, while the inner suburbs slowly submerge into decay, until they can be purchased and "redeveloped" cheaply enough, by the same interests who built them in the first place.
There has been just enough nominal indoor mall construction to say that they are still constructing them, but it's kind of like how if you try hard enough you can find someone who still manufactures horse carriages. 1 new mall nationally every 3-4-5 years isn't indicative of much of anything.
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Old 12-01-2014, 09:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by steeps View Post
Ok I will mention the City...CHICAGO having 2 premier shopping streets downtown. Its Original State Street and its High end one North Michigan Ave now renamed the "Magnificent Mile". It rates up with Fifth Ave NYC and Rodeo Drive LA. But ....US NEWS TRAVEL ...list CHICAGO #2 behind NYC as the top 2 shopping Destinations 8 Best Shopping Destinations in the USA | U.S. News Travel and Michigan Ave Chicago ...in particular In the nation after Rodeo Drive LA.
America's Best Shopping Streets | U.S. News Travel
State Street has suffered massive decline from its peak around WW2, and is no longer a major shopping street, at all. The only surviving department store on State is Macys, which has been downsized, and largely only open for legacy reasons. If it wasn't the former Marshall Fields flagship, with all the tradition, it would probably be shuttered.

Downtown Chicago retail shifted north of the river, to the Michigan Ave. area, over the last 50 years. Michigan Ave. has been wildly successful, but at the expense of State Street. Macys makes its money at the Michigan Ave. store, where the tourist crowds provide big revenue.
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Old 12-02-2014, 07:54 AM
 
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Although things have changed in recent years in a lot of cities and vary depending on where you go, things like white flight, suburbanization and offshoring have had their effects on a lot of cities last century. Whether cities had an in-demand economic lifeline or several, depended on how, if and when they recovered.

For example in Denver where I live, our downtown area was little more than some parking lots, Victorian warehouses and other abandoned buildings, and railroad tracks some twenty years ago. The introduction of our baseball team, The Rockies, and their stadium, planted in the heart of what used to be our skid row neighborhood, helped turn things around. Businesses wanted to do business for the sports fans and there was an influx of new restaurants, sports bars and the like, which ultimately led to several lofts being built nearby as well. As a result the entire downtown area does not just become a ghost town at night after offices close. There is so much for everybody to do that it's become our proverbial "city that never sleeps".
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Old 12-02-2014, 03:37 PM
 
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Originally Posted by cisco kid View Post
Nightlife and fun are located elsewhere? Where exactly would that be but the downtown?
The suburbs? I don't think so. There was no such thing as suburban sprawl back then.
Low density sprawl is possible only when everyone has a car, and there were few if any private cars back then.

The downtowns were a lot more lively back then because that's where the streetcars went. When you don't have a car then naturally it is very convenient, time and cost-effective to have all your shopping and entertainment needs located in the same area (the downtown).
There where things called city neighborhoods where you might find an restaurant or bar. Not everything was downtown. Not quite. The downtowns are often where the city first started and simply grew out from there. Even Chicago's downtown predates the invention of the street car. There were also movie theaters the in neighborhoods.
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Old 12-02-2014, 07:39 PM
 
Location: East Central Pennsylvania/ Chicago for 6yrs.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NOLA101 View Post
State Street has suffered massive decline from its peak around WW2, and is no longer a major shopping street, at all. The only surviving department store on State is Macys, which has been downsized, and largely only open for legacy reasons. If it wasn't the former Marshall Fields flagship, with all the tradition, it would probably be shuttered.

Downtown Chicago retail shifted north of the river, to the Michigan Ave. area, over the last 50 years. Michigan Ave. has been wildly successful, but at the expense of State Street. Macys makes its money at the Michigan Ave. store, where the tourist crowds provide big revenue.
NOLA .... Of course State street is Not CHICAGO'S main Shopping Street Today...That is now North Michigan Ave.... renamed " The Magnificent Mile". The HIGH END STORES. But State St has the common Mall Stores now.

My point merely is... State Street "that Great Street" in its hay-day had decline in the 70s. I lived in Chicago in the 80s. I saw the decline... Sears closed its flagship State St store. Montgomery Ward closed then out of business. Weebolts depth stores ...out of business. Marshall Fields closed its whole Men's building into the main one. Carson Pierre Scott in their landmark building ...out of Business. Macy's took over a few former city flagship stores , like Marshall Fields Chicago and Wanamaker in Philly.

They tried a only buses Mall concept? It was ugly and didn't work. Then in the 90s, the Street was reopened to all traffic redone and LOOKED GREAT....again. Retailers began to move back.... Sears did a new store, EVEN A TARGET IN THE HISTORIC former Carson Pierre Scott building...BUT ALL ARE HAPPY MACY'S KEPT THE FORMER MARSHALL FIELDS. Tourist still visit it and locals of course.
But again the TRUE HIGH END STORES ARE ON THE MAGNIFICANT MILE AND VIRTICLAL MALLS and the boutique stores on some side streets.

BUT STATE STREET IS VIBRANT TODAY.... Just mainly your typical suburban Mall stores now. For a list of stores .... http://www.dreamtown.com/chicago-guide/statest .

Last edited by steeps; 12-13-2014 at 11:18 AM..
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Old 12-03-2014, 04:59 AM
 
Location: Western North Carolina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
I'm old enough to remember my city's vibrant downtown back in the 1950s: four big department stores, two dime stores, four movie theaters, individually owned shoe stores, hat shops, ladies', men's and children's wear stores, plus doctors' offices, lawyers, the courthouse, public library, three very gracious historic and locally owned hotels, restaurants, drugstores, and a steady flow of people shopping, dining, and enjoying the movies. There were no shopping malls, and only a few shopping centers. We had a good municipal bus service, and a train station, along with taxis, and urban sprawl didn't get underway until the late 1950s, when IBM came to town. Downtown was a happening place...

What changed?? Urban sprawl was part of it, along with highly destructive urban "renewal", which took out blocks of historic houses and other structures dating to the early 1800s. Amtrak took our trains away and the tracks and beautiful train station soon followed - no more making a quick trip into town from the surrounding smaller communities. Changing slow-moving two-way downtown streets to one-way aided the flow of traffic, but wiped out on-street parking on Main Street and offered few alternatives. Privately owned small stores were faced with competing less pricy imports and big chains, and downtown grew dusty, dirty, unkempt, and often unsafe for a several decades. The younger members of the families who'd owned downtown businesses for generations found other interests, and family-owned stores were sold or became part of national chains.

Malls came in around 1967 and were very popular - all under one roof, safe, new, and attractive, plus free and convenient parking! They also brought popular chain stores which were new to our city. Elsewhere, farms were turned into cheaply constructed shopping centers with big box stores with lots of cheap imports, luring more from the declining downtown.

And the city grew, with miles of new developments increasingly far away from downtown. One store after another closed, as customers ceased to shop downtown, usually citing parking and safety as their main concerns. Bus service declined and while the same routes were served, the fifteen minute wait for a bus stretched to an hour - few people are that patient, unless forced to be so.

Many of the doctors' offices moved to the suburbs, often into new structures designed as medical office buildings - previously, many had offices in rehabbed historic houses within two blocks of Main Street, a sort of "doctors' row".

So the years rolled by. And after a while, and after much discussion about what downtown's future should be, we started to see some progress. A fine new library rose on Main Street. New courthouses were constructed, while the old courthouse was left in place (but not adequately funded to repair the damage down by ill-considered "remodeling" in the '60s). The street scene was freshened up with trees, floral planters, and hanging baskets. Two new downtown parks were constructed. A "civic center" with a huge basketball arena was added. Restaurants came and went, to serve those drawn downtown by sporting events, concerts, and other activities. A farmers' market became a huge weekend draw. Lawyers remained downtown, thanks to the courthouses.

One of the remaining movie theatres was restored to most of its original glory, and became a popular destination, showing classics regularly along with current films. Downtown festivals and parades drew crowds downtown once again - but they departed after the last float rolled by and the last corndog was consumed.

But the big retail center of the 1950s was gone and hasn't shown signs of returning. Those wonderful old stores - the ladies' ready-to-wear store which sprayed perfume lightly on all who entered, the big department store with the escalators, the toy departments on the third floors, the smell of roasting peanuts in the dime store, the Christmas train display in the basement, the Christmas windows with colored lights and automaton elves - all are gone now.

And I miss them, but am so thankful I was around to experience them, back in the day...there's nothing like them now, and sadly, I don't foresee them ever coming back.
What you described is almost exactly how long timers describe the once vibrant downtown in my area. I've seen "historic" pictures of it - I'm sorry I missed it!
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Old 12-03-2014, 05:25 AM
 
Location: Prepperland
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Subjective Observation :

In the beginning, American cities, like other cities, were the answer to the question : how can we build prosperity? Prosperity is based on production, trade and enjoyment of surplus usable goods and services. Doing more with less so more can enjoy is progress. Ergo, bustling downtowns should have production and trade of goods and services conveniently located. And when transportation was limited to rail or horsecart, there was a natural tendency to consolidate population and minimize distance between producer and consumer.

These forces of consolidation and efficiency were based on common sense. However, once government meddled, and subsidized waste, things changed - and not for the better.

The public subsidy of the petroleum fueled automobile and its infrastructure, while penalizing its rival, electric traction rail, was the major factor in destroying the downtown. It also reduced efficiency, led to suburban sprawl, and destruction of arable land - for short term profit, and long term loss.

To create a bustling downtown is simple - eliminate the imbalance caused by government. Will it ever happen? I doubt it. The automobile - petroleum - pavement hegemony is too large a segment of the economy. Collapse would occur before any common sense reform, thanks to current mismanagement and democratic socialism.
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Old 12-03-2014, 08:25 AM
 
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The sad part is, suggesting that we stop subsidizing oil and freeways, or that streetcars were a good idea, or that auto suburbs were the product of social engineering, typically gets one lambasted as a "socialist" or worse. The old cities weren't built entirely by the free market either--government still played a hand, but it worked in a different way. Once business realized they could use government to socialize their losses while privatizing profits, the sprawl game was on. We still see it today in the business model for downtowns--continued subsidy for sprawl, plus new subsidies for the urban playgrounds downtown, with public cash funneling into private pockets from both directions.
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Old 12-03-2014, 09:18 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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I think Wburg answered this best. Downtowns, at least for major urban areas, didn't die of "natural" causes. They were killed, because the mid-20th century policy was to "clear" a central business district of all residential uses. Many cities made the problem even worse by ringing their CBD with highways which blocked off pedestrian access from nearby neighborhoods. Often the first ring of residential neighborhoods was also trashed to allow for extensive industrial zones. And the historic, smaller-scale buildings in many downtowns were demolished, either for parking or for large-scale buildings which didn't interface well with the pedestrian experience. As a result, CBD's were basically designed to be areas which people would not linger long past working hours, and simply couldn't compete with suburban shopping centers, no matter how much parking was added, in terms of "easy in, easy out" performance.

It's worth noting that for the most part, even in vibrant big cities, the most "Downtown" portion of the city is not super vibrant after hours. The core of Midtown Manhattan (which is actually where most jobs are located in NYC) is one of the more quiet areas in the evening. The Financial District in Boston is pretty dead at night while somewhere like Back Bay or the North End is pretty lively. The same holds true for the K Street area in DC. It's just that in a large urban city there are plenty of intact, dense urban neighborhoods for the nightlife to be centered upon besides Downtown.

IMHO while every city needs to focus more upon turning their Downtown area into a mixed-use neighborhood, these are not actually the key to Downtown revival, because the amount of people who want to live in hyper-density is always limited. The key are the extent to which intact neighborhoods are still adjacent to Downtown (say, within a 15 minute walk of the fringe). Anywhere these neighborhoods have survived to the present, they've become among the most desired in the city (e.g., Capitol Hill in DC, North End in Boston, or Rittenhouse Square in Philly). A city can only support so many residents within its CBD, but once you include the potential population in the areas fringing downtown, the amount of foot traffic for businesses increases dramatically.
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