Our Sponsors

Want to take part in this feed?
Join us!

Search this Site
Hidden Stuff
« Radio Open Source | Main | Brainerd Strong Town Series: Leveraging public investments »

A brief look back

Yesterday we posted about the placement and design of civic structures. Thank you for all the feedback. If you have not had a chance, be sure and read the comments from the post. Losts of other (sad) examples of the same thing.

On our off-day here (we typically publish Monday, Wednesday and Friday), I thought I would share one more picture with you. This street, the one that now terminates with the loading docks and penitentary-looking facade, is called Front Street. This was taken on a Friday around 2:00 PM, although it could have been any time. This place is always void of humanity, and for obvious reasons. It is not an inviting place, made more so by the auto-centric design (from the street section, to the lack of parked cars, to the lights to the abundance of parking lots, to the gaps in the facades, etc....)

Here is how this same street looked in the late 1890's. No commentary needed.

Just one thing to note that may not be obvious: Everything in this lower picture was built with private-sector funds at a time when we were a developing country (read: poor) and without zoning, design standards, tax-increment financing, local economic development initiatives and the automobile.

Regression on this scale is what happens when you measure prosperity in terms of traffic volumes, available parking spaces and other modern growth metrics.


We continue to receive requests from communities looking to host a Curbside Chat. We're trying to reach you all. If you are interested in supporting our Curbside Chat program or our efforts to create a Chat video for broad distribution, please consider a donation to Strong Towns. We are slowly working our way down and now need to find just 87 people willing to make a modest, $25 donation towards the video project. Thank you for your support.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (3)

Are those circus wagons in the 1890s postcard?

March 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

My guess is that it is a parade of some sort. Could be a circus.

March 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCharles Marohn

How did human and aesthetic metrics get replaced by 'modern' measures of success like traffic counts and parking spaces? Why is the termination of a street, the picture that it frames, not a consideration in the architecture and urban planning programs that are being taught in our institutions of higher education? If those factors are being taught, what happens to the students that causes those features to be forgotten or forsaken in practice? Is it as simple as the hurdles of bureaucratic buffoonery in the circus parade of a different sort called 'urban development?'

March 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJimGraham
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.