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  #41  
Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 5:49 AM
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Cincy and St. Louis. They're the only metros with sizable intact pre-auto walkable areas.

Minneapolis doesn't have very high quality pre-auto fabric.
Pre-auto fabric is becoming less of a meaningful marker of urbanity as time goes on because we are building proper urban buildings again. Minneapolis has added hundreds of new urban format midrises over the last decade, which is why its population has grown by 10% since the 2010 census. There has been enough new development that it is a different city now than it was even three or four years ago. It is now basically the city Seattle was in 2010 in terms of fabric.
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  #42  
Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 5:56 AM
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I had to go to Columbus last May for a business trip, spent a week there. Spent time in Worthington and Dublin as well. These leafy burbs honestly did feel like Connecticut to me. Worthington in particular.

I didn’t get the impression that downtown Columbus was used to its potential. I was there during the NHL playoffs, when Columbus hosted the B’s. The crowds were light, there was no real festive feel. I get that hockey doesn’t have the same cultural weight in Ohio that it does in New England, but If I hadn’t known better as a huge hockey fan, it would have been hard to tell an event of any importance was even happening. Downtown looks healthy enough, no abandonment issues, light volumes of new construction, clean. But it’s clearly not a destination.

Short North was probably the liveliest place near downtown. German Village had some killer brick vernacular that’s stylistically different from Boston’s Federalist rows yet still evoked Charlestown or lower Beacon Hill. I loved it.
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  #43  
Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 12:23 PM
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Not Chicago, eh? Evanston, IL has it all: a vibrant downtown with high end retail, a heavy rail system, commuter rail, apartment neighborhoods, etc.

If that’s being cheeky, how about Madison?

Being serious, though, midwestern big cities other than Chicago are great, but they really need to improve their downtown retail and dining options. The comparison to Seattle is sobering; Seattle was smaller than most of the Midwestern cities we’re debating in 1940 but, today, its downtown is more vibrant than all of them by a wide margin.
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  #44  
Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Chef View Post
Pre-auto fabric is becoming less of a meaningful marker of urbanity as time goes on because we are building proper urban buildings again. Minneapolis has added hundreds of new urban format midrises over the last decade, which is why its population has grown by 10% since the 2010 census. There has been enough new development that it is a different city now than it was even three or four years ago. It is now basically the city Seattle was in 2010 in terms of fabric.
My biggest beef with MN is all of those elevated walkways between buildings downtown.

On the surface it appears that that was a bad urban planning choice
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  #45  
Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 12:38 PM
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Being serious, though, midwestern big cities other than Chicago are great, but they really need to improve their downtown retail and dining options. The comparison to Seattle is sobering; Seattle was smaller than most of the Midwestern cities we’re debating in 1940 but, today, its downtown is more vibrant than all of them by a wide margin.
Well, 1940 was 80 years ago!

Every city has changed since then. Unfortunately many in the midwest declined since then. Some declined and bounced back to become even better than before, think Boston, New York. Some have steadily grown, think Los Angeles and some have steadily declined, think Detroit, Pittsburgh etc.

Isn't it amazing what 80 years of growth will do compared to 80 years of decline?
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  #46  
Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 12:42 PM
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Downtown is a secondary issue here

Generally in the us the cities that are adding the most urban format infill midrises are those with the highest rate of increasing urbanity.

Houston inner loop, dc, Austin, portland, Chicago west loop, Minneapolis are at the forefront of this trend.

In the Midwest, maybe Columbus.

Meanwhile Milwaukee’s downtown, St. Louis central west end, and Cincinnati’s OTR are architecturally extraordinary. But they lack the new investments in sufficient numbers to make these assets yield the benefits they should.
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  #47  
Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 1:39 PM
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Originally Posted by dc_denizen View Post
Downtown is a secondary issue here

Generally in the us the cities that are adding the most urban format infill midrises are those with the highest rate of increasing urbanity.

Houston inner loop, dc, Austin, portland, Chicago west loop, Minneapolis are at the forefront of this trend.

In the Midwest, maybe Columbus.
But these aren't equivalent to prewar urbanity. Dallas has probably built like 50k in-town units, but doesn't appear notably more urban than earlier. It's more like dense suburbia imported to low-value core land to serve demographic trends like later family formation and less money for down payments. It's Phase 1 to the eventual Plano McMansion.
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Meanwhile Milwaukee’s downtown, St. Louis central west end, and Cincinnati’s OTR are architecturally extraordinary. But they lack the new investments in sufficient numbers to make these assets yield the benefits they should.
They're underutilized, yes. But they have the requisite bones, which are irreplaceable and unreplicable.
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  #48  
Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 1:49 PM
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I agree with you for the most part (there are just statistics that tend to correlate with urban areas), but I don't have enough on-the-ground experience in every city to make qualitative comparisons. Streetview helps, but it's not easy go get a sense of scale.

That said, which of these (all in Chicago) do you consider the most urban:

A) https://www.google.com/maps/@41.8671...7i16384!8i8192

vs.

B) https://www.google.com/maps/@41.8725...7i16384!8i8192

vs.

C) https://www.google.com/maps/@41.9181...7i16384!8i8192


Canadian cities (and Minneapolis) have a lot of streetscapes like A and much fewer of B and C (owing to the age of development, obviously) but arguably they are all urban typologies.
To me, yeah, B and C are far more urban, because they have the prewar bones. I recently stayed a few nights right around A, and while very pleasant, park-filled and family-friendly, that corner of the South Loop did not strike me as particularly appealing to hard-core urbanites. Lots of townhouses with attached 2 car garages on quiet streets and giant podium towers.

My son had a blast at multiple playgrounds on a South Loop street with this typology. Great in-town location, not particularly urban:

https://www.google.com/maps/@41.8640...7i13312!8i6656

IMO there are multiple typologies that prefer urban cores. Some prefer urban cores because they're intensely dense and active, and polar opposite of suburbia, some prefer because they're convenient to work, going out and friends. The South Loop generally attracts more of the latter.
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  #49  
Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 2:04 PM
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minneapolis! the other toronto.....honestly its the only midwestern city id be excited to move to. lots and lots of quality neighborhoods and tons of outdoor sh!t to do. their park system and bike network is amazing...
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  #50  
Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 2:12 PM
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I defy anyone to compare inner loop Houston today to 30 years ago and tell me midrise construction everywhere hasn’t contributed to gains in urbanity.
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  #51  
Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 2:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
To me, yeah, B and C are far more urban, because they have the prewar bones. I recently stayed a few nights right around A, and while very pleasant, park-filled and family-friendly, that corner of the South Loop did not strike me as particularly appealing to hard-core urbanites. Lots of townhouses with attached 2 car garages on quiet streets and giant podium towers.

My son had a blast at multiple playgrounds on a South Loop street with this typology. Great in-town location, not particularly urban:

https://www.google.com/maps/@41.8640...7i13312!8i6656

IMO there are multiple typologies that prefer urban cores. Some prefer urban cores because they're intensely dense and active, and polar opposite of suburbia, some prefer because they're convenient to work, going out and friends. The South Loop generally attracts more of the latter.
Well Dearborn Park 2 is... Special. Probably the worst planning mistake in Chicago in recent history.
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  #52  
Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 2:51 PM
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Indeed, places like OTR in Cincinnati or the Historic Third Ward in Milwaukee are almost more like museums or playgrounds than functional neighborhoods.
Milwaukee is interesting.

In many ways it is one of the midwest's most urban cities.

People focus a lot on the Historic Third Ward but to me, its most urban areas are its north lakefront. Those are not "museums". They are functional urban neighborhoods with a long row of highrise apartment buildings and adjacent walkable commercial strips. In a way, they are sort of a mini-Chicago in their layout.
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  #53  
Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 2:57 PM
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My son had a blast at multiple playgrounds on a South Loop street with this typology. Great in-town location, not particularly urban:

https://www.google.com/maps/@41.8640...7i13312!8i6656
^ Are you giving us a tour of Dearborn Park?

Dearborn Park?

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!

Everybody knows that DP is a giant planning mistake from a prior generation. Please don't hold that against us. Every city has douchey parts of town, that's Chicago's. Points further east which have been getting developed over the past 20 years are much, much better.
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  #54  
Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 2:57 PM
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Well Dearborn Park 2 is... Special. Probably the worst planning mistake in Chicago in recent history.
I actually think the neighborhood is great for families. There were tons of little kids, pleasant, well-maintained parks, and it probably attracts many people who would otherwise be in the suburbs.

We stayed in Central Station, which is basically the same thing. Townhouses with attached garages on quiet, leafy streets. The people living there are probably more "invested" in Chicago than transient renters in the high rises. But hard-core urban? Nope.
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  #55  
Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 3:00 PM
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^ DP is a hellhole. It needs to be bulldozed yesterday.

Those people aren't "invested" in Chicago, they are "invested" in DP remaining an insular community with no through streets and remaining uninviting to outsiders.

Tear. It. Down.
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  #56  
Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 3:18 PM
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^ DP is a hellhole. It needs to be bulldozed yesterday.

Those people aren't "invested" in Chicago, they are "invested" in DP remaining an insular community with no through streets and remaining uninviting to outsiders.

Tear. It. Down.
The whole South Loop is characterized by townhouses on quiet streets. It isn't specific to Dearborn Park. The no through streets and relative isolation make it perfect for families, who are less worried their toddler is gonna be mowed down by speeding cars.

You would tear down like 90% of the South Loop, because it isn't wall-to-wall tenements like in the Bronx? Why, exactly? There would be no one living there but college students, 20-something transients and divorcees. The professional families would move out.

What's wrong with a streetscape like this? Affluent families in Chicago's core neighborhoods live in neighborhoods like this. They generally aren't living in 50-floor towers:

https://www.google.com/maps/@41.8630...7i16384!8i8192
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  #57  
Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 3:24 PM
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Oh yeah, Cincinnati is definitely a Midwestern city with some cultural influences from the South, and some architectural influences from the Northeast. I've always gotten purely Midwestern vibes from Cleveland, and I'm not really sure what about it makes it feel Eastern. If it's just the cultural influences from the immigrants they've received over the years, then I guess Detroit and Chicago are also not Midwestern. From the architecture to the accent to the layout of the city...it's Great Lakes Midwest through and through.
Yeah, I would never suggest that Cleveland feels like it fits right in on the east coast or anything. Just that it is more like upstate NY and western PA than it is like Columbus or other areas in the more "midwestern" part of Ohio.


Also, what are these "architectural influences from the Northeast" that Cincinnati has? And that additionally brings up the question of where does Cleveland get its architectural influences from? I'll answer the second one... from the Northeast.
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  #58  
Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 3:25 PM
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My biggest beef with MN is all of those elevated walkways between buildings downtown.

On the surface it appears that that was a bad urban planning choice
The Minneapolis skyways are pretty bad, and downtown Detroit wins on street-level aesthetic. But in terms of sheer activity, Minneapolis is a bit ahead. It will be interesting to revisit this in a decade now that downtown Detroit is in its first sustained rebound since the city started declining. Currently downtown Detroit is somewhere between 100K-120K workers in the square mile. Minneapolis is around 165K (according to JLL). I wouldn't be surprised to see downtown Detroit double in workforce by 2030.

http://minneapolisblog.jll.com/2017/...ers-residents/
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  #59  
Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 3:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
The whole South Loop is characterized by townhouses on quiet streets. It isn't specific to Dearborn Park. The no through streets and relative isolation make it perfect for families, who are less worried their toddler is gonna be mowed down by speeding cars.

You would tear down like 90% of the South Loop, because it isn't wall-to-wall tenements like in the Bronx? Why, exactly? There would be no one living there but college students, 20-something transients and divorcees. The professional families would move out.

What's wrong with a streetscape like this? Affluent families in Chicago's core neighborhoods live in neighborhoods like this. They generally aren't living in 50-floor towers:

https://www.google.com/maps/@41.8630...7i16384!8i8192
You are confusing DP with the greater South Loop.

The greater South Loop east of Michigan Ave is still generally well connected to surrounding streets. It is not the same thing as DP.

DP is an insular hellhole like a suburban subdivision with nearly no outlets. It also completely turns its back on State St, a major thoroughfare, south of Roosevelt. People who live in DP come out with pitchforks and torches whenever there is a proposal that threatens that status quo. They came out in full force against a subway station that would've been built on the edge of their district, so now it will get built across the street. They used "inside connections" to prevent a street from getting cut to create a new intersection at around 15th st or so.
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  #60  
Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 3:39 PM
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Originally Posted by iheartthed View Post
The Minneapolis skyways are pretty bad, and downtown Detroit wins on street-level aesthetic. But in terms of sheer activity, Minneapolis is a bit ahead. It will be interesting to revisit this in a decade now that downtown Detroit is in its first sustained rebound since the city started declining. Currently downtown Detroit is somewhere between 100K-120K workers in the square mile. Minneapolis is around 165K (according to JLL). I wouldn't be surprised to see downtown Detroit double in workforce by 2030.

http://minneapolisblog.jll.com/2017/...ers-residents/
I definitely look forward to this as well
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