There is a There There1

Posted by Deirdre // 10-12-2011


If you’ve followed the blog a bit, you’ve probably gotten that I have a thing for the renewal of cities – taking what’s been empty or down and out and changing it into something more, something different. Making them more livable, more attractive to new stores, restaurants and therefore new people, who in turn sometimes give new life to old stores and restaurants. In 1999 when my husband and I were first dating, we lived in Carroll Gardens and watched Smith Street change from somewhat empty-gritty to cutting-edge (and very livable) cool right in front of us. It was totally exciting to witness and be a part of – the new Brooklyn being borne out of and sitting comfortably next to the old Brooklyn – Italian standbys like D’Amico and Sam’s, many of which thankfully are still there.

Waterfire photo by Eric Gould

One city that’s gone and continues to go through amazing renewal is Providence, RI – home to my niece and sister-in-law (former Ft Greener). Imagine that the river that runs through downtown, the site for the amazing Waterfire (that I hope to finally see in person this fall) – was actually covered with concrete for years. Who the hell would do that? It takes a visionary mind (in this case architect William Warner) to imagine uncovering it to serve the community. It takes new and different thinkers, and more visionary minds to actually get it done.

Richard Florida, writer and coiner of the term “Creative Class” recognizes that it will take creative geniuses like Warner to bring back cities and build smarter communities for people and the planet. Florida writes regularly for The Atlantic and it is through following him that I learned of the amazing Atlantic Cities site, the tag of which is “Place Matters”. Kind of the point of the blog.

Gray's Lake Park in Des Moines, Photo by Tim Bloomquist

A recent feature was on the American Planning Association’s Great Places lists, which include Great Neighborhoods, Great Streets, and Great Public Spaces. It is these things that play such a part in whether we can actually enjoy the day to day life of a place beyond schools and housing, and a tangible asset that makes up the intangible feel of a neighborhood or town. Like Prospect Park or Pier 6. Or that one brownstone you always drool over when you pass by. Or the view of the river through the guts of the Manhattan Bridge.

What are the things that you feel make up a place you’d like to live? That makes the place where you are either hard to leave or makes you ready to jump to real estate listings every chance you can get?


One Response

  1. January 4th, 2013 at 2:39 pm

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