Greater City Providence

News & Notes

firstworks dining
People eating at Kennedy Plaza during last month’s FirstWorks Festival

The Atlantic Cities: The Power of the Movable Chair

In his classic 1980 study of the use of public spaces in New York City, William H. Whyte and his team of researchers used cameras to watch people and understand how they used the public places in the city. One of the takeaways from the film footage was that people like to sit in public places, and, far more fascinatingly, that if given the option they will almost always move chairs before they sit in them.

The New York Times: How the G.O.P. Became the Anti-Urban Party

A leading Republican columnist, trying to re-stoke her candidate’s faltering campaign before the first presidential debate, felt so desperate that she advised him to turn to cities.

“Wade into the crowd, wade into the fray, hold a hell of a rally in an American city – don’t they count anymore?” Peggy Noonan lamented in The Wall Street Journal. “A big, dense city with skyscrapers like canyons, crowds and placards, and yelling. All of our campaigning now is in bland suburbs and tired hustings.”

But the fact is that cities don’t count anymore – at least not in national Republican politics.

See also: Greater Greater Washington: Presidential debate again ignores urban issues

Architizer: Do New “CityTarget” Stores Miss The Mark?

The idea behind the CityTarget, as many a press release has trumpeted, is to capture the loyalties of fickle urban shoppers and to cater to their pied-à-terre-size needs with a sympathetically smaller footprint (SF’s store is 70,000 square feet, just over half the chain’s average 135,000) and an equally inflated design consciousness. But after 50 years as a dyed-in-the-lino red behemoth, can CityTarget really turn around the prosaic store design of its predecessors?

Grist: The greenest mile: Chicago pushes the limits on sustainable streets

The unlikely marriage of sustainability and this gritty corridor isn’t accidental. The Chicago Department of Transportation has spent two years and $16 million on this stretch of Cermak, which serves as the southern gateway to the city’s Pilsen neighborhood. David Leopold, project manager for the CDOT, says he took everything that would make a building LEED platinum and built it into the streetscape. Improvements range from solar-paneled bus stops to native plants and pavement that sucks up rainwater. Other cities are studying the project as a blueprint for change.

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Savannah’s surging downtown defies downturn

Downtown Savannah teems with tourists and college students stroll past coffeehouses and restaurants in an eminently walkable urban environment. Chocolate shops sit side-by-side with art galleries, bawdy bars and boutique stores, creating the type of seamless mixed-use environment that developers dream of manufacturing.

Though long been known for walkability, downtown Savannah wasn’t always this way. Sections were plagued with empty storefronts and lagging foot traffic just a decade ago. A fresh influx of tourists, a renewed focus on the “creative class” and Savannah College of Art & Design’s unorthodox growth strategy have led to a downtown renassaince.

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