In response to: What is Downtown Today? posted by Jim Lewis on 23 February 1999 at 15:31:43:
Interesting that you should choose "houses with front porches" to exemplify the old and irrelevant. The front porch is an old solution to an old problem, yes, but it's the kind of old problem that makes me think of the phrase "everything old is new again." What is this problem? It's the recurring issue of finding a balance between privacy and community. The front porch, where it still exists, serves as an effective kind of "buffer zone" that permits a measure of privacy, while at the same time permitting one to participate in the life of the street. Nothing we've come up with since, that I know of, does the job as well.I must say--without rancor or condemnation--that I think you guys are allowing nostalgic, romantic feelings to control your thought processes. We need new solutions to new problems, not houses with front porches.
Since when has it been possible to monitor others' "every action" from a front porch? Do the houses not have walls and curtains where you live?Or, if you wish truly to live where there is more of a sense of community, move to a very small, old town. But be prepared for eagle-eyed old busy-bodies sitting on front porches, watching your every action, making sure you don't do anything unusual.
A gross exaggeration. I lived in central Washington, DC, for several years, in Dupont Circle, an area that I would assert fits your description of having "little unique shops and architecture with character." I didn't have a car, which meant that (1) going out to the suburbs to shop was not practical for the most part, and certainly not to Wal-Mart, and (2) going out to the suburbs to shop was not necessary, since avoiding the expense of an automobile meant that, even without being wealthy, I could well afford to do my shopping in my neighborhood.Yes, downtown areas in NYC, LA, Chicago, even Philadelphia contain wonderful little unique shops, and architecture with character. But then, unless you are wealthy, you have to go out to the suburbs and shop at Walmart.
Most people who live in large cities aren't wealthy (as you ought to know, virtually all of the wealthy are either in the suburbs or in the country). Yet they are well capable of living comfortably without having to schlep out to the suburbs for every necessity of life. Just ask them.
Sundbyberg (småstan i storstan), Sweden