public place is the physical manifestation of a
need for different people NOT of like mind or like look to come together
for unplanned reasons. The public and private realms are both vital
to a democracy, not one without the other and, surely, not one at the expense
of the other.
OF "PLACE" DOES NOT HAVE TO BE INEVITABLE
despair at the "uglification" of the manmade
the loss of a sense of place, the sterility of our road culture, the repetitious
"strip-scape" devouring the countryside, the repetitious "mall-scape" replacing
downtowns, the frustration of our traffic congestion, the bankruptcy of
our culture of commerce, and the homogenized aesthetic that passes for
design. But we accept these physical changes as inevitable, allow
those who benefit
and professionally to rationalize its
and don't stop to seriously examine the
undemocratic qualities and dysfunctional nature of a car-dependent society.
what are supposed to be public spaces or parks (parks should function as
public places) don't work as public spaces, drawing people for many reasons
at different times during a day. Too many parks, waterfronts, and
open spaces serve worker populations well at lunchtime, offer leisure time
crowds organized entertainment, and serve sports
well for competitive events. Louisville,
Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Charlotte,
Carolina, and many other cities have lavish,
and highly acclaimed waterfronts that fit this bill. Without programs
to draw people from afar and too many arriving by car, they are dead.
While the band is playing, space is splendid. Lots of people.
Few undesirables. Between planned events, these public places sit
empty because a diverse mixture of people do not live, work, visit, or
spend leisure time in the vicinity, keeping the place populated throughout
public space in a downtown should not need to be programmed to draw people.
No matter how beautiful, how "designed" a public space or park is, it will
be empty of people most of the time if a user population does not live
nearby. That user population must bring on foot the variety of humanity
witnessed in such landmark parks as New York's Central Park, San Francisco's
Golden Gate Park, the Boston Common, or Seattle's Pioneer Square.
play, live go to school, or just visit must be in the vicinity on a regular
basis, or, at least, be an easy mass transit trip away.
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