• We're a fun, friendly, and diverse group of planners, placemakers, students, and other folks who found their people here. Create your FREE Cyburbia ID, and join us today! Use your email address, or register through your Reddit, Facebook, Google, Twitter, or Microsoft account.

Are there any good ways to define 'downtown'?

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
24,471
Points
49
Downtown: Its Rise and Fall, 1880-1950
By Robert M. Fogelson

https://books.google.com/books?id=9z9ZAwAAQBAJ&pg=PT19&lpg=PT19&dq=define+downtown&source=bl&ots=zp03qaVYw9&sig=FGN2ESKdBWt8Qg_rvj_m_RQmRcE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiskKzdq4PYAhVk3IMKHb4FB_M4ChDoAQhRMAc#v=onepage&q=define downtown&f=false

How Los Angeles Got a "Downtown"
https://www.kcet.org/shows/lost-la/how-los-angeles-got-a-downtown

As Robert Fogelson recounts in his 2001 history "Downtown: Its Rise and Fall," the term's meaning eventually came unmoored from simple polar orientation. By the 1850s downtown referred not just to lower Manhattan as a specific geographic place but also to the city's business community more generally. Soon cities across the United States were adopting the term for their own central business districts.
Downtown vs city centre
https://lecittainivisibilli.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/downtown-vs-city-centre/
 
Last edited:

Michele Zone

BANNED
Messages
7,657
Points
28
Thank you. My current notes include some of the following ideas (trying to not quote my notes too directly in case I ever publish what is currently a draft of a blog post):

CBD
24-hour neighborhood
Historic urban core
Location of government services
 

Doohickie

Cyburbian
Messages
1,503
Points
23
Thank you. My current notes include some of the following ideas (trying to not quote my notes too directly in case I ever publish what is currently a draft of a blog post):

CBD
24-hour neighborhood
Historic urban core
Location of government services
For some cities, you might think of CTD as well as CBD (Central Tourism District). I would say this is especially true in downtowns where businesses (retail, etc.) have moved to the suburbs but there is still a vibrant downtown driven by tourism.

Also worth considering: Physical boundaries delineating downtown (lake, river, rail, etc.)

Downtown Fort Worth is pretty clearly delineated by train tracks on the south and east sides, and the Trinity River that wraps around the north and west sides... although there is a piece of land that is a bit too far from downtown to be "downtown" due to the course of the river; this is called the Upper West Side.. The definition of downtown varies though. Outside of the clearly delineated downtown are other commercial areas that people coming from the far suburbs consider to be downtown.

So... I guess I don't know what the exact definition is. Or should be.
 

Michele Zone

BANNED
Messages
7,657
Points
28
There is no universal definition. I am just trying to come up with some good rubrics for delineating a downtown if one needed to do so to define development goals, basically.

This has all been really helpful.
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Messages
26,526
Points
53
Good sources for trying to define the local downtown area?
I guess it depends for what specific purpose... For the purposes of establishing DDA boundary limits? An overlay district? Simply as part of a narrative for a Master Plan?
Depending on the purpose, it could be a district that's clearly defined on a map, or could simply refer generally to a concentration of commercially zoned properties near the center of town where major streets intersect.
 
Top