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Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Speaking of Sunday Streets...

Yes, DC scheduled "Feet in the Street" again, in a far off part of the city, for Sunday August 28th.

They wanted to do it on K Street NW, but the city committee that handles street closures argued that it would have too great an impact on the ability to provide services in an emergency. See "DDOT proposing K Street "Feet in the Street" and "HSEMA rule prevents K Street Feet in the Street" from Greater Greater Washington.

Last year, I suggested using Massachusetts Avenue from 9th Street to Dupont Circle, but with keeping 14th Street open -- people could go under 14th Street through the underpass on Massachusetts.

--What's the matter with Kansas (Avenue)?

I suggested this because I believe that DC should focus on the easy wins, rather than try to do this in places where the underlying conditions aren't supportive--spatial conditions, density, local support--because only with success can you get skeptical people to change their minds.

And a commenter, smax, suggested doing this in the area of Dupont Circle in any case, and I agreed, in this entry:

-Dupont Circle and Summer Streets

I don't know why they didn't try for Massachusetts Avenue. It's central, it's beautiful (well for the most part), and it can be closed with only a modicum of negative impact. (16th Street buses wouldn't be impacted because they use the 16th Street underpass.) Closing K Street would have maximal impact. It's as if by choosing to go with K Street, DDOT expected that they wouldn't get approval.

A blog entry from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Even Baltimore's done it," has a nice set of links to coverage in other cities about "Summer Streets" (the term in New York City) programs.

One of the many blog entries I intended to write about Montreal but didn't because of lack of time concerns their "Aires Libre" program -- "free air" -- where they promote pedestrian-prioritized streets (meaning no cars) not just in one place but in many places throughout the city, for much of the summer. Note that the cite only refers to the program on St. Catherine Street.

But there is a pedestrianized area in the Old Port area, and I came across a street at the McGill University campus, which is written about in these articles, "McTavish Street: A pedestrian oasis" and "It’s official: McTavish St. now a pedestrian zone," from the McGill Reporter.

Some merchants don't like this, but most seem to be ok with it.

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