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beautiful boulevards in America

scitek

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I am coming back from a nice trip that include Mexico city and
Guatemala city, and since I am majoring in urban planning, I have this question for you:
In these two latin american cities I found beautiful boulevards with
trees in the middle, and traffic goes at both ways of the boulevard, in Mexico is called "Paseo de la Reforma", it has several circles with monuments and lots of trees, and at both sides of the boulevard, you can find the top hotels and restaurants of the city.
In Guatemala city, there is a similar boulevard, even the name is kind
of the same: it is called "Avenida La Reforma", and it is like that one in Mexico city, with the best hotels, like The Westin, and the American Embassy, but if you head south, you find a very nice circle with a monument to the independence of the country, it divides the city in two, and if you continue going south, you will be in "Avenida Las Americas", which is a wider boulevard, with a park in the middle of it, and in Sundays, you can see children on horsebacks, and families strolling in the tree-lined park, it also has circles with monuments in every corner.
I also heard that in Buenos Aires, Argentina, there is the widest avenue in the world, it is called "Cinco de Mayo" or something like that.
After all this introduction, here is my question:
I wonder if there such a place like those I described, here in the U. S., I mean wide boulevards, with trees or parks in the middle, and even monument circles, you know, I am from a small town in Minnesota and as an Architecture student, I would love to know if are there any of these roads or boulevards with those features, please let me know if there are some of these and in what cities can I find them. I really would appreciate your help.
 

biscuit

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I'm sure there are several grand blvds. here in the US however they may nay be as grand or as old as those you described in Central America. The one that first comes to mind is Monument Avenue in Richmond, VA. In the stretch running west from downtown and through what is known as the Fan District, Monument Ave. has a brick surface with a wide mediun containing mature hardwoods. There are also the large, mostly civil war related, monuments, most of which are within small traffic circles. The Ave. is almost entirely residental in nature and is lined with some of the grandest homes in Richmond. It's a beautiful street and definitly worth a short deture from the hell that is I-95.
 

Cardinal

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biscuit said:
I'm sure there are several grand blvds. here in the US however they may nay be as grand or as old as those you described in Central America. The one that first comes to mind is Monument Avenue in Richmond, VA. In the stretch running west from downtown and through what is known as the Fan District, Monument Ave. has a brick surface with a wide mediun containing mature hardwoods. There are also the large, mostly civil war related, monuments a couple of which are within small traffic circles. The Ave. is almost entirely residental in nature and is lined with some of the grandest homes in Richmond.
Monument Avenue is a great street. Take a close look at the brick, though. It is actually stamped asphalt. Unless you look closely, you can't tell.

Boulevards were included in the Burnham plan for Chicago, and several were constructed. Like Richmond, they will occassionally have a monument, but most are simple planted with grass and trees in the center. They started out as high-end locations in middle- or upper-class neighborhoods, but the areas have declined. Still, these boulevards may be one of the attractions to help revitize those communities.
 

el Guapo

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Ward Parkway in Kansas City - not world class - but very nice nonetheless.
 
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Several in New Orleans come to mind - St. Charles Avenue, Carrollton Avenue, Canal Boulevard, parts of Canal Street, parts of Elysian Fields Bouelvard....
 

biscuit

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Michael Stumpf said:


Monument Avenue is a great street. Take a close look at the brick, though. It is actually stamped asphalt. Unless you look closely, you can't tell.

Stamped asphalt. Well who would have thunk it. I lived off monument for over a year and never noticed that the street wasn't brick. Some kind-of planner I am.
 

nerudite

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Have you ever been to Avenue of the Stars in Los Angeles (since you live there and all)? It has been about half my life since I've been there... but it always reminded me of that big "boulevard" feel. There's a fountain at the beginning near Wilshire (?), lots of artwork and and landscape strips.

This is the only photo I can find of Avenue of the Stars on the net. Unfortunately, the fountain is turned off... it's really pretty when it's up and running...

 

BKM

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Denver has a lot of nice, small-scale residential boulevards-on a much more intimate scale than you are talking about.

In the Berkeley Hills, there is Arlington Avenue, a narrow residential boulevard terminated by the California Bear Fountain. It is mostly residential, but has pockets of commercial in Kensington, CA.

I think Lakeshore Drive, although a freeway, plays a similar symbolic role for Chicago as these boulevards. And, given the large parkland next to the lake, it has that recreational/gathering place role.

Chico, a small town in California has a great boulevard-where they haven't allowed strip development to ruin it. Chico's Esplanade is a wonderful "main street" with separated local and "express" lanes and multiple rows of liquidamber trees that provide spectacular fall color.

I really like Monument Boulevard, too.

A great topic! I can flee here from the shellfire in the Ted Koppel thread. :)
 

nerudite

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Hey BKM... have you ever been to College Park in Davis? It's my favorite residential street... it has 19 Landmark Trees and the canopy is just beautiful. It's right off of Russell Boulevard (which isn't a bad looking street either).
 

pete-rock

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Michael Stumpf said:

Boulevards were included in the Burnham plan for Chicago, and several were constructed. They started out as high-end locations in middle- or upper-class neighborhoods, but the areas have declined. Still, these boulevards may be one of the attractions to help revitize those communities.
Chicago's best boulevard examples include:
1) Logan Boulevard, which terminates at Logan Square;

2) Martin Luther King Drive (formerly Grand Boulevard), which has maybe 6-8 monuments in its three-mile length;

3) Drexel Boulevard, which contains several beautiful monumentally designed churches; and

4) Midway Plaisance, which travels through the University of Chicago and whose 100-foot median was used as the midway for the 1893 World's Fair.

The neighborhoods bordering each of these boulevards (Logan Square, Bronzeville, Kenwood-Oakland and Hyde Park, respectively) have successfully used the roadways to revitalize their areas. Logan Square has benefitted from being immediately west of the booming Lincoln Park neighborhood, and Hyde Park has always benefitted from the university's presence, but Bronzeville and Kenwood-Oakland are recovering nicely from years of decline.

Other boulevards in Chicago (Humboldt, Franklin, Independence, Douglas, Washington, Western and Garfield, most notably) haven't fared as well, but are trying to emulate the strategies of the ones listed above.
 

pete-rock

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Also...

There is a book called, curiously enough, "The Boulevard Book," by Allan Jacobs. He's a former planning director from San Francisco and professor at Cal-Berkeley. He identified boulevards across the country and commented on common themes, suggesting that boulevards are beautiful alternatives to high-speed expressways.
 

BKM

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College Park

Davis is only 20 minutes or so from my house, and it is the nearest bit of "urbanity" (downtown Vacaville ain't quite there yet, but its trying :) ), so I go to Davis a lot.

College Park is beautiful. It's a little pocket of Berkeley in the Sacramento Valley! Russell ain't too bad-I like the median and the big walnut trees lining the entrance to town.
 

dbhstockton

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Let's not forget NYC, which has a multitude of grand planning gestures. There's Park Avenue, Fifth Avenue, West End avenue, the Grand Concourse, Ocean Parkway, the list goes on. There's also the Memorial Parkway in Philadelphia, which dates from the "City Beautiful" era. It was cut diagonally across Philly's grid, and creates a grand axis between City Hall and the beautiful art museum up on an Olmstead-landsaped hill. Rocky found very inspiring, if you find yourself watching that movie again.

That's pretty much it for grand boulevards in my neck of the woods. Oh, and Washington, DC.

View from the museum in Philadelphia:


view from City Hall:


The 1907 Plans (from U Penn's collection):


Grand Army Plaza on Fifth Avenue in New York:
 

mpchow

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more info on chicago ones

going along with the earlier chicago reply, basically, chicago has a historical parkway system that was supposed to connect all the major parks (like grant, lincoln, jackson, washington, humboldt, garfield, etc.) but some of these parkways have fallen out of the beautiful category. but you should investigate into looking up the ones that are still nice. often it's only a seciton of parkway that's still significant.
 

nash

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Louisville Parks

While we have a number of Olmstead designed parks in Louisville, the original parkways intended to connect them all failed to see fruition. There are a few that bisect or skirt the parks, most notably (to me, anyway, as it's where I spent a lot of my youth) Cherokee Parkway. Regrettably, these parkways opt against the tree-lined median, probably to save space. Recently, Cherokee Park has been rehabilitated, and a number of its roads converted to one way (with the opposite lane reserved for bikes and pedestrian traffic). It slowed vehicles considerably, and made the park a lot safer to walk in.

This is just a personal two-cents, but if you're looking into parkways, the Louisville, Kentucky parkway system may illustrate a lot of what went right (and wrong) about the idea in U.S. cities.
 
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NHPlanner

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Re: Louisville Parks

nash said:
(note to administrator: this post was mistakenly made in a new thread, rather than a response to this thread. I tried to delete it, but it wouldn't let me. reposted here, where it's relevant.)
[mod hat on]
Taken care of. :)
[/mod hat on]
 

Mud Princess

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The Grand Concourse

I'm glad someone mentioned the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. In my grandmother's day, it was definitely a grand boulevard, lined with Art Deco buildings, glamorous movie theaters, and busy department stores.

By the 1970s, the Concourse -- part of which runs through the South Bronx -- was a shambles. I think a lot of apartment buildings were demolished. The movie palaces had all been turned into multiplexes, their interiors cut up into little screening rooms. What a shame.

I haven't been there in at least 20 years. I wonder what the Concourse looks like now?
 

swm

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I'd have to go along with dbhstockton's recommendations, esp. Ocean parkway, and the memorial parkway in Philly and some of the avenues in DC - the latter mainly for their monumentalism. Massachusetts Ave in DC is pretty nice...

Let's see, Dolores Street in San Francisco is also nice, Market Street... hm maybe not so nice, or even really a boulevard.

I've been on some nice ones in Chicago (perhaps south side near Bronzeville), and some not so nice ones there also. Similar to some once very nice boulevards in Detroit, they're in disrepair and in blighted neighborhoods, making the area kind of spooky due to their wide expanses and boarded up victorians...

The Allan Jacobs book is superb, and he gives a really good lecture to go along with it. He really likes Ocean Parkway and certain boulevards of Hausmann's Paris.

A major point of his deals with misperceived safety issues, esp concerning "true" boulevards that have narrow access lanes to the outside, and the numerous conflict points that arise due to these extra outside lanes (think K Street in DC)
 

bestnightmare

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here are some pennsylvania ave pics, the first one from the capitol steps, the second one from freedom plaza.


 

LouisvilleSlugger

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Re: The Grand Concourse

Mud Princess said:
I'm glad someone mentioned the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. In my grandmother's day, it was definitely a grand boulevard, lined with Art Deco buildings, glamorous movie theaters, and busy department stores.

By the 1970s, the Concourse -- part of which runs through the South Bronx -- was a shambles. I think a lot of apartment buildings were demolished. The movie palaces had all been turned into multiplexes, their interiors cut up into little screening rooms. What a shame.

I haven't been there in at least 20 years. I wonder what the Concourse looks like now?
EXACTLY! my mom told me so many stories about the Grand Concourse, as did my grand mother. Those old movie theatres use to be so grand! as were those department stores, and Art Deco apartment buildings. I have spent some time there here and there and each time I go back I have noticed an increase decline. from the trees that made the Concourse look splended to more big box development. There are still portions that remain that give you a taste of the grandeur but some of your imagination is needed to try to picture how things use to be on the 'Conc (as the locals say).

here are some good links:

http://www.brorson.com/BronxWeb/GrandConcourse1.html

http://www.dereklink.com/New_York/Bronx_Deco/Bronx_Deco.htm

http://www.bronxview.com/concourse/

http://www.new-york-new-york-real-estate.com/grand.html
 

Bear Up North

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Fun thread!

If you watched Toledo (the one in Ohio, folks) through the years you would see a slide show of the rise and fall of our "rust belt" cities. A good trip on Toledo's planned "grand boulevard" (encircling boulevard and park necklace) would reveal.....

Manhattan Boulevard starts at the Maumee River, in north Toledo. Adjacent to Bayview Park. Big wide boulevard, now strangely silent and dead. Just a few buildings and many abandoned (and not more than 30 years old) apartment buildings. Crosses many railroad tracks......all have been busy for years. Toledo is one of the nation's busiest railroad centers.

Manhattan Boulevard loses parkland and becomes a 2-lane street for a few miles. Older, but well-kept, homes now occupied by Blacks, Hispanics, and (mostly) Polish Whites.
Cruises past Joe E. Brown Park (comedy guy from years ago from Toledo) and again becomes a boulevard.

Unfortunately, no traffic here because the city (years ago) stopped west bound boulevard traffic because of the idiotic
traffic jumble that includes intersecting Manhattan Boulevard,
Collingwood Boulevard ("street of churches"...."holy Toledo"), Detroit Avenue, Berdan Avenue. A maze of circles and stops and turns and......is this Boston?

The necklace picks up again about a mile away, just off Berdan Avenue. Here we have North Cove Boulevard and South Cove Boulevard. Neither are boulevards. One of the Coves goes past the massive Jeep factory and the other slips past some small park areas.

Eventually these non-boulevard Boulevards arrive at one of Toledo's largest city parks, Ottawa Park. North Cove turns into Kenwood Boulevard.....which, a mile or two farther west, starts to skirt past nice ranch homes and the suburb of Ottawa Hills, the original home of Tom Sholz of Boston (rock and roll band).

South Cove (non) Boulevard dies.....very near a cross-street called Utopia Street. Mmmmmmmm.......

On the other side of Ottawa Park (and the park's hilly golf course) is Parkside Boulevard, moving south. Great old mansion-style homes eventually give way to the same sized homes turned into almost ghetto-like apartments. Parkside moves past the University of Toledo's Community College Campus and ends at Hill Avenue.

End of the necklace. End of the dream by Toledo's original planners, so many years ago.

Bear
 

carlomarx

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FresYES!

OK, so you were talking about Davis, Chico, ... what about Fresno? I lived there for about six years and learned to love certain streets: Van Ness between Olive and Shields, Even on the shunned and maligned Southeast area, Kerckhoff and Huntington boulevards are beautiful examples of tree-lined, large-green-strip-down-the-middle places where you can open your windows, cruise, jog, walk the dog, whatever. It's really a spot of beauty in a rough town.
 
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