Welcome to Downtowns Plus, a blog on downtown planning and placemaking that discusses places throughout the United States, Canada, and the world, but is primarily focused on the Western United States. The blog will examine issues that concern downtowns of different sizes and in different settings (rural, suburban, urban), such as planning processes, zoning, urban design, economic development, transportation, and infrastructure. The discussion will incorporate academic research and concepts as a way of framing these issues.
The exciting part of blogging about downtowns is the opportunity to have conversations with people of different backgrounds – government officials, planners, design professionals, business owners and workers, residents, academics, and others – who care about downtowns and want to work together to strengthen them. That is why I encourage you to subscribe to this blog and interact with me through the Downtowns Plus social media networks.
The large number of downtowns throughout the United States and Canada vary from small village centers to the high-density regional downtowns found in major metropolitan areas. There are such disparities between downtowns that using the word in some places can be controversial. Since the most common use of “downtown” refers to larger, regional downtowns, smaller cities and towns may use terms such as “city center”, “historic district”, “main street”, “old town”, “town center”, “uptown”, or “village”. I have named this blog Downtowns Plus in recognition of the terms used to describe downtowns and since placemaking happens in a variety of settings.
A theme of this blog will be that, despite differences between types of downtowns, there are certain conclusions that we can reach about how they work and how they can work better. I hope this blog will help build a common understanding of downtown planning issues. As a first step in developing this common understanding, upcoming blog entries will consider basic points about downtowns and placemaking, including the definition of the term “downtown”, the types of downtowns, and the meaning of placemaking.