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Thread: Great Places

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Great Places

    I'm not sure how I got to thinking of it last night, but I was recalling a visit to Charlottesville, Virginia, home of the University of Virginia and Thomas Jefferson's famous "Lawn." It is a great place, one which is distictly different from all other. It does have a way of grabbing your attention and altering your mood, in much the same way that Grand Central Station and Central Park are described by Anthony Hiss in A Sense of Place. These are places to which people attach a great deal of sentimental value.

    What other great places are there, that have the power to truly move people?

    I think I would add the Terrace at the UW-Madison's Memorial Union. Especially on a summer night, with a band playing and the stars out, it is near heaven.

  2. #2

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    Not many places are truly different, but I think you have to add the Riverwalk (Paseo del Rio) in San Antonio and the square in Santa Fe to the list of US places that will make you pause and really think about the space you're in _Where else? How about Camden Yards? I am not sure the whole Inner Harbor area makes the list, but seeing a game at Camden Yards makes me realize what people can do when they really really think hard about a space. Will think about more posssibilities.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Well if by great you mean "moving", the Boston Holocaust Memorial. Despite an early faux pas, I enjoyed the experience.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    Not many places are truly different, but I think you have to add the Riverwalk (Paseo del Rio) in San Antonio and the square in Santa Fe to the list of US places that will make you pause and really think about the space you're in _Where else? How about Camden Yards? I am not sure the whole Inner Harbor area makes the list, but seeing a game at Camden Yards makes me realize what people can do when they really really think hard about a space. Will think about more posssibilities.
    Good additions - especially the square in Santa Fe. My experience with the Riverwalk was a bit disappointing. It seemed to be mostly restaurants, and only a couple of blocks long. I had expected more.

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    SF Marina Green

    Believe it or not, I really like the Marina Green in San Francisco-and the adjoining Chrissy Field area. Almost as much for people watching. You have San Francisco Bay, kite flying, yuppies playing sports, a row of great mansions, the Pan American Exposition ruins at one end, and a view of Alcatraz. When you add the foghorns on a summer evening, it is really neat.

    If I can choose a rural place, I still love the Napa Valley. I even like the faux-European pretentiousness sometimes. The way the valley is nestled between two mountain ranges, the rolling hills, the vineyards, the rows of trees lining the roads, the fog rolling up from the south, the castles and architectural "monuments" and monstrosities. I really find it a fascinating place.

  6. #6

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    The Marina Green in San Francisco is a great people watching place. The Riverwalk is way more than 2 blocks, and while there a lot of places to eat, I think it has a special relationship to the surrounding city and a lot of contributing design details (bridges, fountains, etc) that add a great texture. There is also a lot of color, which is missing in so many city centers. I was trying to think of additions to the list. The Mall in D.C. is a unique space amongst American urban landscapes and so is the strip in Las Vegas. Another unique urban space is Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    What about Chile?

    [blattant_tourist_promotion] Ever thought about Chile? This long and narrow country has any climate you want! From tropical (Easter Island) to Desertic (Atacama Desert, the most arid in the world, no sh*t) to Glaciers (Ice fields in the south), You name it!
    I tried my best in putting some images up for you in the Cities and Places but I still find that it doesn't show much of Chiles' Hidden Wonders.
    So the best way to know Chile is to visit it.(It'll take you a lot of time to know all of it... even I don't know it entirely)
    [/blattant_tourist_promotion]
    Chile has a bunch of great places! To name a few: El Tatio Geisers, Easter Island, San Pedro de Atacama, Pan de Azucar National Park, La Serena, Elqui Valley, Valparaiso, Region de los Lagos, Maule Valley, Conguillio National Park, Huerquehue National Park, Pumalin Park, Ice Fields, Torres del Paine, etc.... Those were a few that came to mind right now...

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    True, there it is a great country. I do not know much about it or the places you mention. I can see Easter Island as perhaps having a very distict personality as a place, but what about the ice fields? Are they really any different from those in Canada (which I have visited)? I am talking about a place - a building, a park, a street, etc., that grips you and alters your mood; that makes you acutely aware of its difference from the ordinary.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Well if you are talking about buildings... I guess some cool buildings we have are the churches in Chiloe, or the abandoned Nitrate Offices. Apart from those two I can't think of many others...

  10. #10
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    I would like to add the Venice Beach boardwalk area... it is one of the areas that have defined the California stereotype, but for good reason. It's an awesome gathering place with great people watching...


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    Feeling the winter a little bit, Nerudite?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    It's not too bad... I just miss home sometimes.

    Growing up in LA, I never ever would have named Venice. But since I've moved away, it's what everyone names when they talk about Los Angeles... It's right up there with seeing Mann's Chinese Theater and the Hollywood sign. When I went back last February with my boyfriend, Venice was the number one thing he wanted to see. I really dug the vibe when I went there last year, much more so than when I used to go there as a teenager... I think a lot of it was because of Venice's sense of place and my new appreciation of it from a planning perspective.

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I'm nominate Buffalo's Elmwood Avenue, between the Scjaquada Expressway and downtown Buffalo -- about a six kilometer stretch.

    What's so great about a street in Buffalo? The way it evolved, with five very distinct commercial nodes, each with its own character, each pedestrian-oriented, all separated by a "buffer" of churches, Olmsted parkways, and residences ranging from large mansions to turn-of-the-century townhouses to garden apartments to high-rises to trashed two-flats. The vibrant pedestrian environment is amazing along the whole stretch of Elmwood, its ranks including suburban adventurers, urban pioneers, old-school bluebloods, skaters, punkers, goths, college students, hip artists, gays, and more than enough dogs to host an Animal Planet special.

    I've always said that Elmwood is a bright spot in a city that has seen better days, and that it's a street that cities whose fourtunes turned out to be much, much better would envy. The other amazing thing about Elmwood is that you can walk the four-mile stretch and it doesn't seem tiring, either physically or mentally, because the social and physical landscape is so utterly fascinating.


  14. #14
    Cyburbian dbarch's avatar
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    What about the historic district of Savannah? The grid of streets, alleys and squares makes for an un-mistakable sense of place. One of the best pedestrian areas in the world, but one that works OK for cars, too.

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    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    The French Quarter in New Orleans. Take away the public drunkeness (thanks to the collegiate crowd and grown adults who should know better) on Bourbon Street and you have a really nice walking environment that takes you back a couple of centuries.

    I also like the Cambridge area in Massachussetts.

  16. #16

    richmond

    I think one of the grandest streets in America I've seen is Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va. The neighborhood is the largest intact turn-of-the-century neighborhood in the U.S. It's like stepping back in time and very walkable.

  17. #17

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    Monument Avenue reminded me

    I love Monument Avenue!

    As a UVA grad, I also really love the older residential neighborhoods near Downtown and the University of Virginia. Charlottesville in general is a beautiful town (although the Highway 29? strip is a pretty sad commentary on American easy-commerce-and-cars-first urbanism)

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Re: richmond

    Originally posted by bigc
    I think one of the grandest streets in America I've seen is Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va. The neighborhood is the largest intact turn-of-the-century neighborhood in the U.S. It's like stepping back in time and very walkable.
    Is that in the Fan District? I have visited, but can't really remember the street names. What is the other really historic place in Richmond - Sockoe or something like that?

  19. #19

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    Shockoe Slip. Its an old warehouse district on the river (hence "Slip") that they've been transforming into an artsy shopping district.

    Monument Avenue is the main spine of The Fan district. One of the most urbane neighborhoods in the Old South, imo. (There is another nice historic district on the east side of downtown-Church Hill-that is not quite as distinctive.

  20. #20
    I like the gaslamp district in downtown San Diego, it's a lot of fun. Plenty of bars, restaurants and lots of ped traffic. It's summer and the sun is going down the air is getting cooler between the buildings you eat at a restaurant where the doors are all open, or eat on the outside of the restaurant. Afetr you're done eating go for a stroll around town, window shop, go see a band, walk to horton plaza and go to the roof and view the city all around you, or go to the Hyatt bar (on the top floor of the building) and view the city. There is something very relaxing about downtown San Diego.

  21. #21
    here's the hyatt

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Rush Street in Chicago used to have a lot of character. Unfortunately, it was cleaned up. The strip clubs closed and the bars moved to Division Street, where they became "trendy."

  23. #23
    Cyburbian oulevin's avatar
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    Sense of Place

    I second the motion about the National Mall in DC...one of the quintessential American experiences, especially at night. Out of the other places I've been to, the Texas State Capitol, Oxford, Mississippi, and Bainbridge Island off Seattle leave you little doubt where you're at.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Runner's avatar
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    Originally posted by Michael Stumpf
    It is a great place, one which is distictly different from all other. It does have a way of grabbing your attention and altering your mood...
    I'm going to have to add the (former) observation deck at the top of the NYC WTC. It was a really spectacular view and grabbed your attention. Sadly I guess watching its demise did as well.

    On a happier note:

    Originally posted by Planderella
    The French Quarter in New Orleans. Take away the public drunkeness (thanks to the collegiate crowd and grown adults who should know better) on Bourbon Street and you have a really nice walking environment that takes you back a couple of centuries.

    I also like the Cambridge area in Massachussetts.
    I agree, these are both great places.

    I'll also add a vote for Portland, Oregon and the top of Mt Katahdin, ME on a clear summer day.
    Cheers,
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  25. #25

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    Great Places

    The most amazing public space that I ever experienced was the Ponte Vechico Bridge in Florence Italy. It is perfectly scaled to the human being. The tiny shops that line the bridge are intimate and full of beautiful jewelry. The colors of the bridge and the shops are all earth tones, and look as though they grew together into this amazing river crossing.

    My second choice would be Venice Italy, not California. Vinice has wonderful suprises around every corner.

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