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?
We acknowledge the contribution of astute reader Raleigh Rob, who pointed out in his comment below that some of the "issues" with this streetscape are not of recent vintage. The intent of this post is to document what has gone wrong with this particular place, and not to assign blame to one generation or another.
5. The street is empty of people on a 70-degree First Friday evening. Why? Because there are no destinations for people, such as shops and sidewalk cafes.
And why is that? Because the park (Nash Square, to the left of the picture), a green and lovely nucleus, the kind of place around which cafes would normally set up and do a ringing business on a balmy spring evening, has been severed from the facing block by the conversion of MacDowell Street to a four-lane, high-speed throughway. (See #4 above.)
The treatment of MacDowell Street as a through-expressway obliterates many natural opportunities for economic activity along its frontage.
6. There are no pedestrian signal buttons for the crosswalks on any of the four corners of the intersection.
We welcome additional answers and comments.