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Old 11-29-2014, 09:18 AM
 
Location: Columbia, MD
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Okay. I know as most everybody on this forum is aware that there are indeed exceptions to the rule. However, on my travels to many cities around this nation that after 6 pm or on weekends many downtown areas look like modern ghost towns. Sure many cities may have a block or two of moderate vibrancy, but I always found it odd that the heart of any metro region (usually the downtown area) almost always seems to be the most desolate.

My question is, how and when did it get this way? I only find it interesting because so many downtowns have some wonderful hidden gems that so many residents never seem to take advantage of.
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Old 11-29-2014, 09:30 AM
 
9,838 posts, read 11,426,863 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by santafe400 View Post
Okay. I know as most everybody on this forum is aware that there are indeed exceptions to the rule. However, on my travels to many cities around this nation that after 6 pm or on weekends many downtown areas look like modern ghost towns. Sure many cities may have a block or two of moderate vibrancy, but I always found it odd that the heart of any metro region (usually the downtown area) almost always seems to be the most desolate.

My question is, how and when did it get this way? I only find it interesting because so many downtowns have some wonderful hidden gems that so many residents never seem to take advantage of.

There are a lot of great downtowns around the nation that are vibrant. Which downtowns are you talking about in particular? Please be more specific based on your experience so we have a reference because every downtown has a different story and history.
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Old 11-29-2014, 09:35 AM
 
Location: northern Vermont - previously NM, WA, & MA
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Yeah as stated above, I think the OP needs to be a lot more specific and state examples of exactly what cities she is referring to. It goes without saying that there are many vibrant downtowns throughout the US ranging from small and medium to major sized cities. And likewise there are small and major cities with dead downtowns all over. You can't make a blanket statement simply stated as "America's downtowns".

As to why the cities with dead downtowns are lacking in vibrancy has a lot to do with economic factors and de-industrialization in some cities. In other cities it was mid 20th century urban planning that did a lot of damage destroying historic architecture in place of parking lots and freeways to accommodate cars along with sterile office buildings.

There are too many cities to list as examples that have seen a lot of re-investment in restoring downtown vibrancy since the 90's. Denver is one of the best examples I can think of as a success story in that category. Cities like Boston and San Francisco have had improvement over the years, but I think they've always maintained a healthy level of vibrancy to some degree. In a nutshell, the key to having a successful downtown is to have people living in or near downtown with strong core neighborhoods.

Last edited by Desert_SW_77; 11-29-2014 at 09:57 AM..
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Old 11-29-2014, 09:36 AM
 
Location: Philadelphia, PA
8,702 posts, read 11,920,980 times
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There are plenty of extremely bustling and vibrant Downtowns in this country as well:

Manhattan
Chicago
San Francisco
Philadelphia
Boston
DC
Seattle

just to name a few
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Old 11-29-2014, 10:03 AM
 
Location: Los Angeles
2,412 posts, read 1,878,992 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RightonWalnut View Post
There are plenty of extremely bustling and vibrant Downtowns in this country as well:

Manhattan
Chicago
San Francisco
Philadelphia
Boston
DC
Seattle

just to name a few

DTLA should be in that list, although it just has a 60,000 population, its currently booming with day populations above 500,000
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Old 11-29-2014, 10:39 AM
 
Location: Zurich, Switzerland/ Piedmont, CA
32,319 posts, read 55,123,408 times
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Off the top of my head...
1 suburban sprawl, suburban shopping malls and white flight
2 resulting in a decentralization of jobs out of the CBD
3 increased auto ownership & expansive highway systems that led to
4 depleted public transit options
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Old 11-29-2014, 10:50 AM
 
Location: Tampa, FL
265 posts, read 319,071 times
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I completely understand what the OP is talking about... No further clarification is necessary. It was already stated there are exceptions to the rule, so let's stop pointing out Chicago, Philly, NYC, and the like.

As someone above already said, I think it's about the sprawl. Plain and simple. We end the sprawl, and suddenly we have city centers again that are hustling and bustling with entertainment and activity. In most of the cities I've traveled through, much like the OP's experience, cities seem to shut down after the business day ends and there might be only 1 or 2 small pockets (if at all!) where there's a night life in the downtown areas. There's really no reason why every city in the entire U.S. shouldn't have a nightlife right there among the high rises and skyscrapers. It's just that sprawl has dictated that not enough people live in these "centers" anymore.
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Old 11-29-2014, 11:04 AM
 
Location: Michigan
4,571 posts, read 7,029,475 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RightonWalnut View Post
There are plenty of extremely bustling and vibrant Downtowns in this country as well:

Manhattan
Chicago
San Francisco
Philadelphia
Boston
DC
Seattle

just to name a few
Even in these examples, at some point, particularly the 60s and 70s, their downtowns were pretty desolate if not at least undesirable for the typical middle class resident. It's only been after gentrification that most downtowns have improved in vibrancy. And in many of these cities, you only have to go a few miles to find dead zones of activity or even vacant lots or parking lots. Whether its a former industrial area or just a shrinking city, there's few examples of cities that have vibrancy outside of a specific narrow corridor even taking into account terrain obstacles.

Last edited by animatedmartian; 11-29-2014 at 11:13 AM..
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Old 11-29-2014, 11:12 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 animatedmartian View Post
Even in these examples, at some point, particularly the 60s and 70s, their downtowns were pretty desolate if not at least undesirable for the typical middle class resident. It's only been after gentrification that most downtowns have improved in vibrancy.
Maybe undesirable, but I doubt they were ever desolate.
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Old 11-29-2014, 11:14 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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Medium sized cities lost their shopping visitors to malls and suburban strip developments. Crime and middle class flight further discouraged much investment or attention to the center city area.
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