Friday, July 11, 2008

Amenities Make the City

Increasingly, smart cities realize that amenities and parks make them desirable places. New York, one of the most densely populated cities in the country, is paving (or, unpaving) new ground for open space. As the New York Times reports today, the Bloomberg Administration is colonizing two lanes of Manhattan's fabled Great White Way for a strip park of lunch tables. Wonder if that would work on Market Street? Or, the Parkway? What automobile territory would you seize for people?
Speaking of seizing open space, my Changing Skyline column today offers a couple of alternatives to the Delaware Waterfront for the planned casinos.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's tough to add tables to Philly's small sidewalk and street grid. However, if new buildings are built back from the street sidewalk cafe tables could be added. Check out the new Marathon Grille near Univ. of Penn. They have about 150 seats and tables set back from the street.

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not work with the spaces we already have at our disposal and redesign those spaces to accomodate pocket parks and outdoor dining areas.

The three that come to mind immediately are the plaza adjacent to the MSB building, Dilworth Plaza and the corridor between the Penn Center Plaza buildings stretching from 17th to 15th Streets between Market and JFK. These areas are already available, in the heart of midtown, serve office workers, Temple students, tourists, residents and coventioners and are calling out to be redesigned by creative urban planners and landscape architects.

In the past, Philadelphians have been known to settle for a bench, a tree and a broken fountain. The city was a place to work, but not as much a place to enjoy and play. Center City has wonderul restaurants, retail and housing, but with the exception of Rittenhouse Square has had few quality green spaces to enjoy.

It is time to make some serious public/private investments in green infrastructure that Chicago, San Francisco and now NYC are spearheading. You need only to observe the overwhelming positive reaction to the Schuykill River Walk and Water Works gardens and paths to know Philadelphians are craving these spaces and it is time to extend them into the heart of the city.

It is time to start thinking about connecting the green spaces of the Parkway, Love Park, Rittenhouse Square and the Historic District.

3:54 PM  
Anonymous phillyaggie said...

Philly's street grid is far narrower than the one in NYC, so emulating what they do and do something similar in Center City, IMO, isn't worth it. Center City needs more tall skyscrapers, and more new offices and jobs, not blocking off traffic in already narrow streets.

As to the amenities making the city, and tying it back to Inga's article on alternative casino locations, I would suggest sites in the Sports Complex and one near the Convention Center, either on Market East or North Broad.

With the first one, the problem is that the Sports Complex is one huge parking lot ocean. The Philly LIVE project can help change that by adding some theater venues and condo spaces along S. Broad, but more would need to be done to make that area a complete entertainment destination. An upscale casino with table games (NO SLOTS BARNS please!) and an exciting set of restaurants and lounge/club could make it all tasteful.

The second location either on N. Broad near the Convention Center or on Market East is similar to Inga's idea expressed in the article. Market East corridor needs help, and adding a high-rise hotel/casino could help. This would be similar to what New Orleans has except this would have to be done in a much more tight space. Same thing with N. Broad location. Good part with either of these locations would be that the convention crowd wouldn't have to go far to enjoy some table games and some 5-star restaurant in the casnio. You are building the convention center but you don't have much to offer to the huge crowds, many of which often want to just go party. So here's a chance! Give them a party place, and reap the low-hanging fruit.

Philly has areas where it needs good investment. Sure, current Delaware locations also are ugly and a casino is better than nothing, but I think other locations can be better leveraged. This is not rocket science, folks.

Lastly, just build it already. Philly needs the casinos in order to lower its business-killing taxes. This needs to happen ASAP, not when Philly is down to 1 million people!

12:03 AM  
Anonymous Joe said...

You're right that the Parkway is ripe for more active use. We could easily narrow it by two lanes with a minimal impact on traffic. That would make the Parkway more pedestrian friendly and better connect the neighborhoods immediately to the north and south. I don't think anyone's interested in sitting to eat in the middle of the Parkway, but, as you likely know, the most recent plans call for cafes and other amenities along the sides.

7:07 AM  
Blogger mattymatty said...

I would love to see them do something in Northern Liberties along 2nd Street. The street is extra wide between Poplar and Fairmount, so much so that cars park at an angle. Getting rid of the angle parking and making better use of that space would be welcome.

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best opportunity would be to square Logan Circle. Have it bound by 18th, 20th, Vine and Race Streets -- and eliminate the existing streets that presently lie within that area. The resulting park would be larger than Rittenhouse Square.

Right now, it is not more than an elegant traffic circle.

11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to the day when East Girard Ave loses an auto lane in each direction, gets new sidewalks with lane bump outs, and loses the Brotherhood Mission. It will Fishtown a whole new feeling.

Philly should look to Boston and Chicagoland for ideas, especially things like speed bumps on residential streets. It helps.

8:04 PM  

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