A very timely post from the incisive John Montague Massengale.
Another bright idea from the geniuses at the State Property Office.
We have long been outraged and appalled at the corn-pone approach that the State takes with its property holdings in the City of Raleigh. The peckerwoodism of the State Property Office, we have determined, merits a new category of posts on this blog, wherein we will attempt to document just a few of the innumerable acts of idiocy that the State commits with its real estate holdings in the Capital City.
Bonus city planning and urban design tip: Whatever the State Property Office proposes for a site, do the exact opposite, and you will probably be OK.
A story in the Washington Post tells how D.C. is reclaiming city streets from suburban commuters and giving them back to residents. How? The city is converting one-way routes back to normal, two-way streets. And on wider streets, reclaiming an extra travel lane from speeding cars, transforming it into a median refuge so that pedestrians can get across the street safely.
Downtown Raleigh has a similar problem: one-way high-speed thoroughfares designed for just one purpose -- to speed drivers into and out of the center city as quickly as possible.
This approach treats the road as if it were only for motion, and never for access; as if people desired only to be on the move through downtown, and never actually lighting anywhere at a destination.
The effect of this approach? Here's an example: One of our best parks is severed from the surrounding area by four-lane speedways; no sidewalk dining opportunity or retail shopfront will prosper, as long as the adjacent street functions like the Cross-Bronx Expressway.
Traffic roaring through at high speeds isn't just bad for people walking. It also inhibits economic activity and prevents new businesses from capitalizing on a great downtown setting.
Maybe, just as D.C. is doing, it's time to give Raleigh streets back to residents and businesses, instead of favoring commuters and speeding cars from outlying areas.
Another Wake County Task Force on Growth will convene on Thursday.
This the 2008 Task Force.
We had one in 2005-2006, the "Blue Ribbon" task force on growth.
There was also a Wake Growth Management Strategies task force in 2000-2003.
It's a good thing we keep talking about doing something!
So now we know: The price point is $4.
At $3 a gallon, Americans just grin and bear it, suck it up and, while complaining profusely, keep driving like crazy.
At $4, it is a world transformed. (read more)
Note the large institutional uses located at the edge of town -- penitentiary, "hospital" (Dix Asylum), St. Mary's School, and the Methodist Orphanage. The early suburb, Cameron Park, is labeled "Park."
From the 1920 Automobile Blue Book. The ABB guides provided early motoring maps and directions for most American states.
One of the reasons that Americans are so anxious to get away on a holiday weekend from the places where they live is because we did such a perfect job the past fifty years turning our home-places into utterly unrewarding, graceless nowheres, where the private realm of the beige houses is saturated in monotony, and the public realm has been reduced to the berm between the WalMart and the strip mall. Now, we barely have the gasoline to run all this stuff, let alone escape from it for a weekend. [emphasis added]
-- James Howard Kunstler, author and urbanist, at kunstler.com
Let's play a game from The Mini Page: How many things can you find wrong with this picture?
(UPDATE: See possible answers below)
1. First of all, the building has no windows. How weird is that.
2. At street level, there is only one opening to the building, and it has been surrounded by a fortress-like security enclosure. The darkened security glass and concrete stanchions give off the atmosphere of a military checkpoint and are unnerving to pedestrians.
3. Part of Nash Square Park was lopped off to give more room to motor vehicles. At the left side of the picture, note the mismatch between the curb edge in the foreground and the continuation of the street in the background. The sidewalks do not line up. The street has been widened, taking about an 11-foot strip off the east side of Nash Square (just to the left of the foreground).
The aerial view reveals that all four sides of the park were lopped off at some point to make more room for motor vehicles. (See the visible evidence at each corner: the misalignment of the curb edge with adjacent blocks, and the white crosswalk stripes that are cattywompus instead of perpendicular.)
4. The city street has been transformed into a high-speed throughway for heavy traffic. This part of McDowell Street has four lanes of through-traffic and two lanes of parking. The one-way designation and multiple lanes are traffic-engineering methods to allow higher volumes to pass through at higher speeds. This approach treats downtown as if it were the background territory around an expressway.
This list will be continued. In the meantime, can you spot more problems?