|Phoenix - deserted streets downtown|
|Minneapolis--more people on street than up in the skyways|
Collingswood, NJ has a book festival every year right in their downtown on Haddon Avenue, which is probably as many blocks, or longer, than our Main Street. Also like us, they've got public transportation close by. One of the big differences is that Collingswood's downtown doesn't have vacant lots, just block after block of cute small shops, most of which seem to be occupied, plus their public library is there, too. It looks a bit like our West Marshall district only longer. One thing I have noticed is that their downtown seems to be very family-friendly. Their eateries and stores aren't all aimed at adults. Collingswood is about half the size of N-town in population, but they have people living above the stores downtown, and residential areas within two or three blocks of Haddon Avenue. Much of the street is tree-lined, and some of the cafes have outdoor seating. There always seems to be people strolling down Haddon Avenue. Collingswood is a downtown that works.
|Providence Town Center - a poor imitation|
Our downtown has a lot of potential. Sure, we've got vacant stores, but at least they're buildings and not more empty lots. We've got great looking architecture on the first couple blocks of West Main and on the 100 and 200 blocks of East Main. Most importantly, we have residents living downtown, and probably 1/4 of our population can walk to Main Street fairly easily. Every other block is within biking distance, if we'd only allow ourselves to become bicycle-friendly. For people like me, unable to walk or bike, well, I still manage to get downtown when something's going on there that I want to go to. That's the key--we need to give people a reason to come downtown.
More on that in a future Diary entry about Better Block.