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Thread: Best City Square

  1. #1
    Cyburbian bocian's avatar
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    Best City Square

    Well, taking backroads CAN be rewarding, even if it's in Indiana. I drove to the East Coast from Illinois a few weeks ago, and I took the backroads through most of Indiana. When I came to downtown ANGOLA (small city in N/E Indiana), I was shocked (positively) to see its great downtown city square. It was not car-free, but it had a nice monument in the middle of a small park, roundabout, plenty of benches to sit on, and awesome local businesses in the square.
    What I'm getting at is this: the idea of a square in the middle of a city is nothing new: most European and South American cities, for example, have one, usually in the middle of their historic downtowns. However, in North America the "Business Districts" lack pedestrian scale, contain more parking lots than anything else, and are basically unattractive and uninviting.
    So, what's your favorite downtown square in North America? (Hard question, I know, there aren't many around..)

    Downtown ANGOLA, INDIANA:
    www.commercialindiana.com/images/steubenco.jpg

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    Although it's not a small town, Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA is really nice. I had the day off yesterday and walked around there to check out some used bookstores and record shops. Great people watching, plenty of benches, incredible architecture and public transportation.

    For small towns, some places that I can think of now and thought had nice squares or little downtowns were Camden, ME; Wiscasset, ME; Lexington, VA; Lexington, MA; Gorham, ME.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    East Troy Wisconsin has a great city square. Too bad its a godforsaken little trap.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian bocian's avatar
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    Harvard Square in Cambridge is great not beacause of how it looks like, beacause it is too small to be a "real" city square, but precisely because of the qualities you mentioned, such as plenty of people hanging around, places to shop and visit, etc.

    Still, it's more of a smaller scale shopping mall for upscale people than a city square (which should also contain the city hall and PUBLIC TOILETS).

    Now, to think about it, I'd say that downtown city square in Bloomington, Indiana is not so bad.
    Indiana... who would have thought???

  5. #5
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    You'll find that a lot of towns in the south have town squares. Two that I'm familure with are in Pendleton, SC - a pretty and vibrent little village next door to Clemson. And Abbeville, SC which was featured in the Julia Roberts flick Sleeping with the Enemy, and the place that tried to hire me as county planner last year (but I needed some time away from small towns).

  6. #6

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    My Vote

    Fort Collins, Colorado, specifically "Old Town"...there's some nice shots of it on the CofC Website....

    [URL=http://www.fcchamber.org/]

    Choose "pictures."

    It's a great place to hang out...lots of good restaurants and is the site of the "Colorado Brewers Festival" in June....I like it too, as, at least for now, it runs on a much more civilized pace than Metro Denver does.....

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Rittenhouse Square in Philly ...

  8. #8

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    There are lots of small downtown squares in Midwest towns, some great, some not so great. Woodstock, IL, Spencer (I think), IN, and Bloomington, IN come to mind.

  9. #9

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    Great Topic!

    Some of my favorites include:

    Market Square in downtown Knoxville, TN. A classic market square. Haven't seen it in over ten years, but even in a downtown as sleepy as Knoxville's, it was a nice focal point for the city. I even like the oppressive bureaucratic towers of the Tennessee Valley Authority looking over the one end-architecture should be honest

    Union Square in downtown San Francisco-I like the newest version a lot-with the exception that the balance between hardscape and greenery is skewed a bit too much to the former. A very active city square.

    Sonoma Town Hall Square-a classic. Unfortunately, the great market system CAN be destructive, and downtown Sonoma is only good for buying teddy bears and overpriced tourist stuff.

    A better example (gentrified but still somehow more real): Healdsburg, California. North of Santa Rosa. A fantastic town square with gigantic old trees, a fine collection of yuppie boutiques, a brew pub, great restaurants, and its not only for yuppies-Healdsburg has a great passagiato (sp) for the Mexican-American community.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    The Square.

    The Square.

    Oxford Mississippi.

    Home of Square Books, and many fine restaurants and bars.

    http://www.oxfordms.com/

    http://www.squarebooks.com/front.php
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  11. #11
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    And all the squares in Savannah. Especially the one with Vinnie Van GoGo’ s Pizza on it.

    As my wife put it…

    “I think they put drugs in the pizza, you just cant stop eating it…”
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Huston is right about Savanna. Pete-Rock forgot to mention that Woodstock, IL is where the movie "Groundhog Day" was filmed, so most of you should have an idea of what that one looks like. Lebanon, TN has a nice square, though they had paved too much of it and the stores were struggling at the time I was there.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Jasper, Indiana
    Boonville, Indiana
    Princeton, Indiana
    and many other smaller towns.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  14. #14
    Originally posted by Greenescapist
    Although it's not a small town, Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA is really nice. I had the day off yesterday and walked around there to check out some used bookstores and record shops. Great people watching, plenty of benches, incredible architecture and public transportation.
    aaah, Harvard Sq. and Brattle Sq., those are some great squares!!! great for people watching. I miss that area of Cambridge. I am also fond of Fountain Sq. in Cinci and Pioneer Sq. in Portland.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Saint John, NB has a few squares. the nicest one is Kings Square Uptown. It has a gazebo for a band, lots of mature trees and is fronted on one side by a restored 1890's theatre and 1920's skyscraper (15 stories). On another side it is framed by teh City Market building and on another side it is framed by the original fire station and loyalist cemetery. it also houses a statue of benedict arnold.



    I guess I should put a plug in for our town square too.



    Is is relatively nice, just not too busy. Unfortunately it is where most of our dilaudid addicts hang out and cause troubles.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  16. #16
    Cyburbian ilikefish0's avatar
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    Jackson Sqaure, New Orleans

    St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Brewery, museums, French Market, artists, fortune tellers, magicians, bands

    They even put back the benches.
    Off to Zanzibar--To meet the Zanzibarbarians!

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    The Diag, Ann Arbor, Michigan








  18. #18
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Originally posted by pete-rock
    There are lots of small downtown squares in Midwest towns, some great, some not so great. Woodstock, IL, Spencer (I think), IN, and Bloomington, IN come to mind.

    goto your dvd collection and pull out groundhog day... welcome to woodstock, il
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    Washington Square Park in NewYork.

    Best.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    Originally posted by gkmo62u
    Washington Square Park in NewYork.

    Best.
    ....square in NYC for buying drugs. Washington Square Park is nice, but I've never had so many guys come up to me and whisper "weeeeeed, weeeeed are you looking for some?"

  21. #21

    Re: Best City Square

    Originally posted by bocian
    Well, taking backroads CAN be rewarding, even if it's in Indiana. I drove to the East Coast from Illinois a few weeks ago, and I took the backroads through most of Indiana. When I came to downtown ANGOLA (small city in N/E Indiana), I was shocked (positively) to see its great downtown city square. It was not car-free, but it had a nice monument in the middle of a small park, roundabout, plenty of benches to sit on, and awesome local businesses in the square.
    What I'm getting at is this: the idea of a square in the middle of a city is nothing new: most European and South American cities, for example, have one, usually in the middle of their historic downtowns. However, in North America the "Business Districts" lack pedestrian scale, contain more parking lots than anything else, and are basically unattractive and uninviting.
    So, what's your favorite downtown square in North America? (Hard question, I know, there aren't many around..)

    Downtown ANGOLA, INDIANA:
    www.commercialindiana.com/images/steubenco.jpg
    Hey! I was just in downtown Angola this weekend. Very nice town. Can't believe they have two movie houses right in the square both still in operation (The Brokaw and the Strand)

    If you ever stop there, try the Pizza at Greek's. It's delicious!





    Last edited by Super Amputee Cat; 23 Sep 2003 at 4:37 PM.

  22. #22
    Cirrus's avatar
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    Dupont Circle, DC

  23. #23
    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
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    Originally posted by Greenescapist
    ....square in NYC for buying drugs. Washington Square Park is nice, but I've never had so many guys come up to me and whisper "weeeeeed, weeeeed are you looking for some?"
    hmmm .....been there a lot and never been approached.

    I love the open spaces of Boston though.... Cambridge is nice... and there is one on the North Side... forget the name.
    "Yeehaw!" is not a foreign policy

    Renovating the '62 Metzendorf
    http://metzendorf.blogspot.com/

  24. #24
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Hey, Angola is only 13 miles south of me, and we go there quite frequently. You guys should have called me and we could go for a beer (ok, or a root beer for me, but anyway).


  25. #25
    Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    Hey, Angola is only 13 miles south of me...
    What city?

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