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Thread: Examples of suburban, auto-friendly corridors with strong sense of place?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian FueledByRamen's avatar
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    Examples of suburban, auto-friendly corridors with strong sense of place?

    I'm looking for examples of commercial corridors in suburban settings that maintain a strong sense of place. Ideally, corridors that:
    • Are pedestrian/bicycle friendly
    • Have a good public/private interface along the streetscape, even with minimal parking between bldgs and ROW
    • Are fairly high intensity without being very high density (i.e., few multi-storey buildings)
    • Easily accessed by car
    • Along a major (4-6 lane) arterial (bonus points if its a State Highway!)
    • Mixture of commercial uses (retail, dining, office) and maybe some residential

    I am NOT looking for corridors where 3+ storey mixed use buildings all pulled right up to the ROW line. Also--again, ideally--it would be great if these corridors are well-enough studied that I can find photos online

    Any ideas?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    OP reminds me of a poem by Rilke.

    Oh, this is the animal that never was.
    They did not know it and, for all that,
    they loved his transformations, his bearing, and his gait
    that into the tranquil gaze of light, he lived.

    Really it was not. Of their love they made it,
    this pure creature. And they always saved a space
    And in this place, clear and hollow,
    lightly he raised his head and scarcely needed

    to be. They did not feed him any corn,
    only the possibility that he might
    exist, which gave the beast such strength, he bore

    a horn upon his forehead. Just one horn.
    Unto a virgin he appeared, all white,
    and was in the silver mirror and in her.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Nob Hill in Albuquerque fits this bill to some extent. It is well within the City limits today but was built as a streetcar suburb at the edge of town in the early part of last century. Retail is primarily one story (though now the area is so bustling that a bunch of businesses are building larger establishments and some higher density infill has come in) and the buildings are largely pushed to the edge as was the style of streetcar suburban development. There are a handful of establishments with parking in front, however. Its very accessible by car and Central Ave. that runs down the middle of the area is a 4 lane road that used to be Route 66 before it was decommissioned. Its a very busy bike area, although those activities tend to stick to the adjacent streets as Central is way too busy and dangerous for a lot of bike traffic. Its also a very active pedestrian shopping area with a mix of retail, dining, and boutique shops. The city has struggled with the issue of the major arterial passing throught he middle of here and instituted many traffic calming and pedestrian crossing elements in the last few years.

    IMO, the place works as well as it does because it is no longer at the edge, but now fairly close to the center of the city. This gives it alot of poulation to draw on and I seriously doubtit would have this kind of vibrancy if it were on the edge. This area has also had its ups and downs. This most recent resurgence began in the 1990s. I would say this is an rea that works well as a commercial node in spite of and not because of its suburban, single story design. Its a big transit area precisely because it is so hard to park here and the traffic is a big issue.

    http://rt66central.com/
    http://nobhill-nm.com/ (this is the area neighborhood association's site)
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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    Cyburbian FueledByRamen's avatar
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    Thanks! See, Unicorns do exist!

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I agree with Wahday. Lots of areas that were former streetcar or interurban stops have that sort of feeling to them. In large metros, smaller downtowns were eveloped and are part of the suburbs for large cities such as Detroit, Chicago, and countless other cities.

    In some cases these areas have been kept the way they were, in other areas these have been changed dramatically or modernized to look like strip malls, but the bones are still there should you want to change the ordinances and allow for them to return to more pedestrian environments.

    I've recently moved to one of these places. I now live in Plymouth which has many of the features you are looking for. On some days its like living in a more lively version of the town central in back to the future.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=plymou...12,239.37,,0,0
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    I'm thinking of Vienna, Virginia along Route 123. Seems to have everything you're looking for.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    Some of the neighborhoods in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Summit and Grand in St. Paul is one, Lake Street is another. Uptown is a little less auto-friendly. But compared to around here, most neighborhoods in MSP are auto-friendly. And yet so many of them have a strong sense of place.

  8. #8
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Check out Mayfield Road (US 322, four-lane state road with sidewalks and tree lawns) in Lyndhurst, Ohio, an inner-ring suburb of Cleveland. As with many of Cleveland's East Side suburbs, development began as a streetcar suburb in the 1920s, stalled in the Depression, and resumed in the 1950s. There's a mix of pre-WWII taxpayers, poist-WWII freestanding commercial uses, and residences. Landscaping has a more residential feel, with simple lawns and mature trees. If there's parking in the front, there's usually no more than one drive aisle. All of the suburbs lining Mayfield Road (Mayfield Heights, Lyndhurst, South Euclid) have extremely strict sign codes; short and small monument signs are the norm.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    I think that the "Ttwp" (Sheridan Drive/Delaware Avenue area in the Town of Tonawanda north of Buffalo) fits this criteria.

    The "Ttwp" is the quintessential first ring suburb in the Buffalo area IMO, and a big reason that so many people opted (and continue to opt) out of living in Buffalo for "suburbia". The homes are mostly post WWII-1950s on modest lots, mostly capes, some ranches, a scattering of duplexes and some larger homes. Sidewalks, playgrounds, parks, and decent schools are the norm in this part of the town. Bus service on Elmwood, Delaware, and Colvin Avenues make commuting downtown easy, but probably most residents worked, and many continue to work, in the manufacturing plants located in NW Buffalo and the western part of the town. Property values have continued strong in this area, and the town of Tonawanda has been zealous in code enforcement; you don't find a lot of ramshackle properties in the "Ttwp".

    The main commercial area is along Delaware Avenue from the Village of Kenmore northward almost to the I-290 and along Sheridan Drive from Elmwood Avenue east to almost Niagara Falls Blvd. There are some 1950s style "shopping plazas" that have been revamped and revitalized. There are numerous individual businesses -- chain drugstores, restaurants, supermarkets, nurseries, small office/medical buildings, etc. There are also some churches and some parks. There's at least one overhead pedestrian/bike bridge over Sheridan Drive.

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I don't know about Tonawanda. It's well-kept, but commercial areas aren't very attractive. Metal buildings are popping up on Sheridan Drive, and the town has a fairly lenient sign code (30' max for freestanding signs). If I was looking for a nice, in-betweenish suburban area in Buffalo, I'd go with the Eggertsville and Snyder "hamlets" along Main Street (NY 5, four lane) in the Town of Amherst, or Williamsville outside of the village core.

    IMHO, Sheridan Drive as a "unique place" peaked in the 1960s, when it was the Northtowns' summertime strip. The street had more than its share of nurseries, hot dog stands, custard stands, miniature golf courses, and the like. Many "Sheridan means summertime" uses are still around, though. Sheridan Drive was intended to be a grand residential parkway, and there's still a few pre-Drepression houses and mansions that can be found along the street.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian HomerJ's avatar
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    Reminds me of Frankfort, IL in the very far south suburbs of Chicago. The village maintains very strict architectural and landscape standards. When you are driving south through Mokena you can actually realize you are all of a sudden in Frankfort just by how different the buildings look. There's a few commercial developments along La Grange (Rt 45) and Lincoln Hwy (Rt 30) that might resemble what you are looking for.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=frankf...250.94,,0,9.15
    Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

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    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    I guess I'm just prejudiced. Having lived in Black Rock/Grant-Amherst area of Buffalo for 20+ years, I have a soft spot for the Tonawanda area around Sheridan and Delaware. Of Buffalo's northern suburbs, it's the one I like best. You have to admit, the Ttwp is a whole lot better than Cheektowaga, West Seneca, or much of Amherst or Hamburg.

    I thought about Williamsville, but that's a village just like the village of Hamburg, so I didn't count either one.

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    Cyburbian FueledByRamen's avatar
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    All, thanks for all of the input! You've come up with some good examples!

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    Cyburbian
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    How about Roland Park in Baltimore? This streetcar-era suburb has several commercial nodes that are very small-scale and intimate. (The linked example includes a grocery store, a coffeeshop, a branch library, a private K-12 school, a bank, and various shops). I can easily see why this neighborhood is appealing to some people: it has beautiful parkways and boulevards with bike lanes, narrower tree-lined streets that branch off of those, sidewalks everywhere, a connected street network that is neither a rigid grid nor a confusing maze of curlicues, ample greenery that has aged beautifully over the years, bus and light rail lines, commodious single-family detached houses with graceful architecture, and several single-family rowhouses, small apartment buildings, and even a few Miesian highrises mixed in.

    Roland Park is pretty pricey, though. There is also the interesting nearby neighborhood of Hampden which has a small-scale, intimate commercial corridor. The residential neighborhoods branching off of this corridor are often composed of single-family rowhouses, some of which are on relatively-large lots (for Baltimore).

    There are many other pre- and postwar suburbs and commercial corridors similar to the above examples in Baltimore, but their current condition varies widely. See Ashburton, Forest Park, Mt. Washington, the Leakin Park area, Lauraville, and Howard Park (all of north/northeast/northwest/far west Baltimore, really). Some of these suburbs are currently rough-around-the-edges, and others are either slowly-reviving or slowly-disintegrating. Right now schools, taxes, and crime play a bigger role in determining these neighborhoods' vitality than physical design.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    I don't know it personally, but Hillsdale in Portland, OR is a post-war area on a state highway, that was selected as one of the city's Main Street program districts, so it must have (or is developing) a sense of place.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    One of my favorites is 2nd Street in Belmont Shore (Long Beach), California. Frequent intersections that are all signalized combine with narrow one-way residential cross-streets that each have parallel parking on both sides. The residences have shallow setbacks. One travel lane in each direction is designated a sharrow. And, the effect is really vibrant with an almost ideal mix of both retail and people.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Here is one of the entrances off of I-45 frontage road at The Woodlands, TX:



    Note the possible use of storm water detainage areas between heavy arterial and community development.


    And here is another image at another entrance to the mall area showing broad avenues with landscape buffering and bike trails:



    Sorry, I don't know how to get these images to show up on Cyburbia.com. Maybe an administrator could help.

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