Thursday, June 10, 2010

Active streets in downtown - what works?

The view above is taken around 5:15 pm from northbound 7th Street about two hours before game time. Over the next two hours, cars and pedestrians crowd the streets and sidewalks in front of Busch Stadium.

Around the corner, on the south side of Busch, there is the elevated structure of Interstate 64. It casts a shadow over the area, creates a foreboding presence, and there are few pedestrians and little streetlife. The condition is not unlike the area along the riverfront, Laclede's Landing, and the Arch grounds created by the presence of Interstate 70.

The boulevard plan proposed by City to River creates a connection between activity generators (the Arch, riverfront, and downtown neighborhoods) encouraging street life. Currently, the area instead is dominated by the presence of an interstate, which acts to deaden the area and discourage street life, just as we see along the south side of Busch Stadium.

The riverfront, Arch grounds, and downtown neighborhoods are already good activity generators or "assets". But generally, all of these areas have minimal street life, especially around the Arch and riverfront. So, the question is, which draws street life, good streets or activity generators?

City to River has created a "What You Can Do" page at the City to River website. If you want to see a pedestrian friendly boulevard in place of the soon-to-be-former downtown lanes of Interstate 70, consider taking these steps in support of the City to River effort.


Andrew said...

Living in New York, I feel like it takes a lot of things to draw people out onto the streets. A quick list...

- Restaurants/Cafes that are open to the sidewalk
- Seating
- Transit stops
- Street vendors
- No smoking laws (draws smokers to the sidewalks)
- Visual interest (merchandised retail windows being #1)
- Performers
- Density (walking through an open area feels slow and tedious whereas passing buildings, signs, other people, etc occupies the mind)
- Shallow setback lines
- Defined corners
- Consumer-targeted street level retail and storefronts (a hair salon has a lot more in/out door traffice than, say, an insurance agency)
- Curbside parking (as opposed to garages)

Anonymous said...

St. Louis will never be like NYC or Chicago no matter what happens.

Michigan Ave was way vibrant long before Millennium Park.

St. Louis has nothing in their corridor like the Field Museum, the active waterfront, Science Museum, Cultural Center, Art Museum and much more which creates tons of traffic as well as the density of the residential and the business places creating the vibrant feel.

The Arch and it's grounds are wonderful, but that is just not enough.