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The other best downtowns thread

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,081
Points
34
They are the kind of places you find when you are not driving the interstate. They are the small-town downtowns; the ones that make you want to stop, get out of your car, and take pictures. Why? and where are they?

Here are a few of mine:

Downieville, CA. It is a small downtown in a steep valley. There are two bridges across the river - both one lane - including the one on State Highway 49. The street is narrow, with only enough room for two cars, yet there is parking on one side. Big trees grow right in the pavement, and the buildings, most with covered porches, are right up to the street.

Mineral Point, WI. This is one of Wisconsin's oldest communities, settled by miners in the early 1800's. Downtown is built on a steep hillside, with the main street descending to the brewery. It is lined by old buildings, many displaying characteristics of the Cornish heritage of the early miners.

Galena, IL. Sadly, this is now very much a trendy tourist place. Still, the downtown has the look and feel of the 19th-Century river town it once was.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
"other" downtowns

Not sure its on any tourist-routes, but I really like downtown Davis, CA. The town has 50,000-75,000 people. Their downtown is not architecturally remarkable, but the streetscape and range of smaller shops is very nice. I like some of the newer mixed use building under construction/recently completed. There is a decent amount of activity-even during summer-and one of my favorite coffee shops and music shops (Armadillo) is there.
 

de-bug

Member
Messages
15
Points
1
Columbus, Indiana!! (My hometown).

"It is said that architecture is frozen music, but seldom in history has a group of devoted artists produced such a symphony in stone as presents itself to the eye in Columbus."

- Lady Bird Johnson

Columbus has been ranked by the members of the AIA as being the 6th most important city in the nation for architecture. Even though Columbus has less then 50,000 people, only Chicago, New York, Washington, San Francisco, and Boston ranked higher.

Aside from the architecture, the downtown is very walkable and pleasant. You can also find such gems as a small scale replica of a garden in Pompeii, sculpture by Henry Moore, a large Chihuly chandeleir, an authentic ice cream parlor that Disney tried to buy, and a wonderful riverside park with architectural flourishes. Oh yeah, and a jail that's so pretty, people term it the "country club".
 

benk928

Cyburbian
Messages
31
Points
2
How about Staunton, VA and Princeton, NJ?
Very quaint, good-looking communities...you walk around and you immediately are struck with a definite sense of place.

-Ben
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,550
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25
New Glarus Wisconsin - The Swiss theme is a bit overdone (the outdoor storage place is called "The Storage Haus") but it is very unique.

Bayfield, WI - Feels like a New Englad coastal town.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,081
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34
Bayfield is looking nice? I have not been there in so long I am having difficulty remembering it, but maybe it would make a nice weekend trip this summer.

I should have also included Charlottesville, VA. How can it not be nice, with Thomas Jefferson's "Lawn" right next door.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
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29
Charlottesville

I lived two blocks north of downtown Charlottesville, near Courthouse Square. It was lovely, (great housing stock, too!) but the true commercial heart of the community (the mall, all the real stores, etc.) had moved to the horrible Highway 29 strip. I hope its gotten stronger, because their nicely designed brick pedestrian mall was not all that active when I lived there several years ago.
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
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3,904
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25
Re: Charlottesville

BKM said:
I lived two blocks north of downtown Charlottesville, near Courthouse Square. It was lovely, (great housing stock, too!) but the true commercial heart of the community (the mall, all the real stores, etc.) had moved to the horrible Highway 29 strip. I hope its gotten stronger, because their nicely designed brick pedestrian mall was not all that active when I lived there several years ago.
It's been about 1.5 years since I was last there and the downtown mall seemed to be fairly busy (Saturday afternoon in early spring). I usually ended up hanging in the Corner District every time I was visited. I have a good friend who just moved to Charlottesville last year and she can't stand it there...Go figure.

One of my favorite small towns is Highlands, North Carolina. it's a beautiful little village that claims to be the highest (in elevation) town on the east coast. Some of the towns charm has been eroded over the past few years however as it has begun to fill-up with wealthy Atlantians during the summer. Several of the local shops have been replaced with overpriced gallaries and boutiques but it's still just a great place to day trip when I'm back that way.
 

DecaturHawk

Cyburbian
Messages
880
Points
22
Decorah, Iowa. A pretty town of about 8,000 in the driftless area that defines NE Iowa/SW Wisconsin/SE Minnesota. Great old buildings, terrific topography, a gorgeous split-rock spring and waterfall a block from downtown, a classic Midwestern college campus (Luther College), the Norwegian-American Museum, and Mabe's Pizza. Terrific canoeing on the Upper Iowa River.

LaCrosse WI has a nice, redeveloping downtown in a small industrial city.

Dubuque, Iowa may be one of the most beautiful river towns on the Upper Mississippi. Burlington, Iowa is also cool, but is still recovering.
 
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94
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4
downtown Lakeland, FL fits into this catagory. Its located 3 miles south of I-4 and has an impressive amount of preserved historic architecture, restaurants, shops, and parkland. Frank L. Wright's largest design, Florida Southern College, is also located here.
 
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