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.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Walk Score best neighborhoods ratings (and problems with relying on "data" for ratings)

The Takoma Park Patch alerts us to the fact that "Takoma Park Rated Most Walkable City in Maryland" which encourages us to look at the Walk Score website, which I haven't done for awhile.

They now have overall ratings for cities, states, and the top 300 neighborhoods in the U.S.

If you click on one of the neighborhoods, you get a listing of the top neighborhoods for that city.

In DC, Sursum Corda, a crime troubled and amenity challenged neighborhood on the border of NE and NW quadrants (an area where I have been mugged twice--I was helped or evaded so nothing was taken) is rated more highly than Capitol Hill (I guess you can get mugged there too).
One of the problems with using general data is that the types of amenities offered usually need to be rated, and they typically aren't, although with Sursum Corda, now that they are a couple blocks from a Harris-Teeter Supermarket and five blocks from a Safeway, I can see why the rating goes up.

But I guess the data set doesn't include crime and certain other factors that have impact on the quality of place and placemaking, in addition to the methodology gaps that they discuss on their website.

Still, it's interesting what they've done and it creates a foundation for focusing neighborhood planning methods and residential attention towards the factors that contribute substantively to quality of life.
-- The Re-Emergence of the Public Square (Project for Public Spaces)
-- 10 Principles for Successful Squares (PPS)

-- Trans-Formation: Recreating Transit-Oriented Neighborhood Centers in DC: Design Handbook -- this DC Office of Planning publication is out of print but is still an excellent overview of the principles of how historically, transit was leveraged to create neighborhoods and commercial districts. The principles are universal, and the handbook explains why development followed particularly patterns and defines and explains the principles. It's an excellent primer for understanding how TOD should work.

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