Regional Downtowns

Better Block Project on Grand Boulevard in Kansas City, Missouri (Image: Better Block KC)

Building Better Downtowns One Block at a Time

For those living and working in depressed areas, one of the most difficult steps in achieving revitalization is to visualize a better future. Words and pictures can fail to capture the imagination. Plans may not seem to reflect resident sentiment. Time frames can be frustratingly long. Local governments may lack the funds for implementing improvements […]

Ten Amazing Real Reel Places

Ten Amazing Real Reel Places

As Sunday night’s Oscar ceremony shows, movies still have a strong power to transport us to places like mid-19th Century America in 12 Years a Slave, late 1970s New York and New Jersey in American Hustle, outer space in Gravity, and a near-future Los Angeles in Her. As impressive as those movies are in creating […]

Ficklin Wilcox Wine Tasting Room in Midtown Sacramento

Local Taste: Tasting Rooms in Downtowns

Over the last thirty to forty years, the United States has seen a significant geographic expansion of the beer, wine, and spirits industries. Originally limited to traditional industry centers like Kentucky, Milwaukee, the Napa and Sonoma Valleys, and St. Louis, entrepreneurs have started breweries, distilleries, and wineries in other cities, regions, and states, particularly in […]

Universal Studios Singapore (source: Walter Lim, Wikicommons)

Sesame Street Grows Up

Since I grew up watching children’s television in the 1970s and 1980s, I was definitely intrigued by a recent poll asking the question: How did Sesame Street influence your childhood perceptions of urban neighborhoods? There is no question in my mind that Sesame Street gave me a positive view of urban neighborhoods. My childhood was […]

Placemaking on a Regional Scale: Does Sacramento Need Another Icon? Part 2

Placemaking on a Regional Scale: Does Sacramento Need Another Icon? Part 2

In my previous entry, I wrote about the importance of icons in conveying a positive image for regions and the need for new icons to promote the Sacramento region to potential new residents, visitors, and businesses. Sacramento is a blank slate for many people outside of California and northern Nevada, with the potential exception of […]

Chicago's Cloud Gate Sculpture

Placemaking on a Regional Scale: Does Sacramento Need Another Icon? Part 1

If you asked someone from another part of the country to describe one place in the Sacramento region, what do you think they would say? They would most likely be stumped to come up with an answer. If you asked someone from Minneapolis, Baltimore, or Dallas who had never visited San Francisco to describe a […]

The Effect of Commercial Street Pattern on Downtown Planning

The Effect of Commercial Street Pattern on Downtown Planning

The phrase “Main Street” has become synonymous with downtowns in small- and medium-sized American cities, from its use in popular culture, including movies, novels, and Disney theme parks, to politics to the Main Street approach for downtown revitalization. A linear “Main Street” exemplifies the commercial street pattern – the arrangement of commercial uses, particularly retail […]

Downtown Davis (CA), a city downtown, serves the City of Davis and surrounding area and contains a mix of local financial, civic, cultural, retail, and residential uses

Types of Downtowns

In my last entry (What is a Downtown?: Changing Definitions for Changing Times), I included my definition of downtowns, which attempted to draw out the similarities between traditional and non-traditional downtowns of different shapes and sizes. While developing a single definition of a downtown provides a way to distinguish downtowns from other commercial areas, identifying […]