A strong, prosperous town requires many things, but perhaps the most universally necessary ingredient is great streets. Your town's streets are its vital organs. They are the foundation for all the life and activity that occurs there. A great street can make a place, and a badly-designed street can kill a place.
We want you to tell us about your favorite street in your town. And not just one you personally enjoy or have a connection to, but one that you think makes your town stronger. Write to us and make the case for your street! Include photos, include maps, and tell us what your favorite street has to teach Strong Towns readers that they can apply in their own communities.
Send your submission to our Content Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or post it on social media with the hashtag #myfavoritestreet and tag @strongtowns.
We'll periodically spotlight these submissions—consider it a sort of living, evolving "Strong Streets Manual," a far more informal analogue to the Complete Streets Manuals full of technical specifications that traffic engineers work from. At Strong Towns, we believe that, while engineers can and should design roads for moving traffic safely and efficiently, a street is something entirely different. And a great one is as much art as science.
Central to our understanding of how streets contribute to strong towns is the difference between a street and a road. These two types of corridors perform two fundamentally different functions in our cities and towns.
A street is a platform for building wealth. It must be designed at the human scale, so that a person feels comfortable walking along it, and lingering there outside of a vehicle. Places like this are more productive: they are where our cities build wealth.
A road exists to move people quickly between places. It should have simple, streamlined design, and limited access. When we attempt to combine high volumes of high-speed traffic (a road) with a complex environment (many businesses with driveways, side streets, etc.) we get the unholy hybrid of the two: the stroad.
Read: What is a stroad?
At Strong Towns, we're interested in building places that are financially productive—they produce enough wealth to pay for their own long-term maintenance. This doesn't have to directly mean economic activity in the form of commercial businesses. If you can make the case that your favorite street contributes real value and resilience to your city—perhaps all the more so if it does it in an unorthodox way–we want to hear your case!
What Kind of Street Do You Love?
Maybe it's the heart and soul of your neighborhood, and the reason your neighborhood has all the charm and community spirit of a small town. Kenmore Boulevard in Akron, Ohio is taking great strides in this direction.
Maybe you love your favorite street because it's narrow—safe, cozy, and economical to maintain. Residential streets benefit from being narrow. So do commercial streets. Maybe your favorite street is even an alley.
Read: The Space Between
Maybe it's a shared space, equally usable by people in vehicles, riding a bike or scooter, or on foot. Or maybe it's even completely closed to motor vehicle traffic.
Read: Unbiased Streets
A tree-lined street can be a delightful experience, and street trees can add tremendous value to a place.
Maybe it's an old-fashioned main street. Maybe it has interesting small businesses which give your town character. Maybe it has a unique cultural character which lends it irreplaceable, enduring value.
Read: Character Counts by Quint Studer.
*** Quint Studer, the author of Building a Vibrant Community: How Citizen-Powered Change Is Reshaping America, will be a featured speaker at our North Texas Regional Gathering in Plano, TX on October 3-5. Click here to find our more about the gathering and buy tickets! ***
How Do You Evaluate a Strong Street?
Sometimes the best definition is simply, "I know it when I see it." But we do know a lot about what works to create a great place and what doesn't. Try the following articles out for ideas about what might be making your favorite place tick.
Send Daniel your best sales pitch for your favorite strong street! And thanks for doing what you can to build strong towns.