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  1. #1
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    How about carfree zones in Chicago?



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    Senior Member no motor?'s Avatar
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    They tried that on State Street (the main street in the downtown area) in the 80's when only buses were allowed to drive down the street and it didn't work too well.

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    Senior Member RPK79's Avatar
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    Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis is doing so well that the state government is dumping $40 million into it for "revitalization" since it's not vitalized enough on its own. I wouldn't find this infuriating if it was Minneapolis dumping money into it, but why should people throughout the entire state of MN be paying for a 12 block long car free zone in Minneapolis to be "revitalized"?

    If the residents and business owners in those areas of Chicago want it than by all means let them have it.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no motor? View Post
    They tried that on State Street (the main street in the downtown area) in the 80's when only buses were allowed to drive down the street and it didn't work too well.
    Yeah, they mentioned State Street in the article. Do you (or anybody) remember why people thought it didn't work?


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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
    Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis is doing so well that the state government is dumping $40 million into it for "revitalization" since it's not vitalized enough on its own. I wouldn't find this infuriating if it was Minneapolis dumping money into it, but why should people throughout the entire state of MN be paying for a 12 block long car free zone in Minneapolis to be "revitalized"?

    If the residents and business owners in those areas of Chicago want it than by all means let them have it.
    First of all, what is Nicollet Mall?

    Being as objective as you want to be, what (if anything) is good and bad about Nicollet Mall? I get that you don't like the government spending money on it, but what is the scoop on the mall itself as a shopping zone, or whatever it's supposed to be?


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    Senior Member RPK79's Avatar
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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicollet_Mall

    I've only been there once for a job interview. It's a 12 block car free street in a commercial district that often has farmers markets and such. I don't have a problem with local government spending on it if that is what local residents want. I have issue with state funds being allocated to a 12 block district in Minneapolis that the vast majority of Minnesota residents will never go anywhere near nor see any economic benefit from.

    I honestly thought that all of that was pretty clear from my first post.

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    Senior Member no motor?'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Yeah, they mentioned State Street in the article. Do you (or anybody) remember why people thought it didn't work?
    I think it was due to several reasons. First it wasn't truly car free with full sized city buses running down the street, and also because many of the businesses on the street were having a hard time competing with the suburban shopping malls and just didn't have the sales to justify the change.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicollet_Mall

    I've only been there once for a job interview. It's a 12 block car free street in a commercial district that often has farmers markets and such. I don't have a problem with local government spending on it if that is what local residents want. I have issue with state funds being allocated to a 12 block district in Minneapolis that the vast majority of Minnesota residents will never go anywhere near nor see any economic benefit from.

    I honestly thought that all of that was pretty clear from my first post.
    Sorry to bug you. I'll read the Wikipedia thing since I still don't know if it's a shopping mall or whatever.


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    Senior Member RPK79's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Sorry to bug you. I'll read the Wikipedia thing since I still don't know if it's a shopping mall or whatever.
    Quote Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
    It's a 12 block car free street in a commercial district that often has farmers markets and such.


    Mall: a usually public area often set with shade trees and designed as a promenade or as a pedestrian walk

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    I notice some of the proposed Chicago carfree spots were shopping streets. There were dozens of these put in Midwestern cities in the 1950s through the 1970s. Many have since been removed. I guess they "didn't work"--at least from a carcentric definition.


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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post


    Mall: a usually public area often set with shade trees and designed as a promenade or as a pedestrian walk
    Thanks. You could have mentioned it's where Mary Tyler Moore tossed her hat.

    And now I'm going to have to go through all your old posts looking for secret messages.
    Last edited by Roody; 02-14-14 at 03:12 PM.


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  12. #12
    Pedalin' Erry Day lasauge's Avatar
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    Change is always worrisome, Chicagoans just need to be shown examples of how productive and prosperous a pedestrian mall can be. In my state, Denver's 16th Street Mall (a free shuttle bus runs along it) and Boulder's Pearl Street are good examples of successful car-free shopping districts, what are some others?


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    Senior Member RPK79's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lasauge View Post
    Change is always worrisome, Chicagoans just need to be shown examples of how productive and prosperous a pedestrian mall can be. In my state, Denver's 16th Street Mall (a free shuttle bus runs along it) and Boulder's Pearl Street are good examples of successful car-free shopping districts, what are some others?

    Something like this is more likely to be successful in Denver where the weather is a bit nicer than in Chicago or Minneapolis where the weather sucks 4-5 months of the year. A lot less people are going to want to venture out as pedestrians when it's sub zero, snowing, and all around miserable. It can still work if the business the rest of the year is good enough though...

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    Senior Member GodsBassist's Avatar
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    I think there are plenty of successful car free areas in the US, but only do well because the population that frequents them is by and large car free already: tourist destinations and college campuses and towns.

    College campuses aren't strictly car free, but there are quite a few where access is limited to seniors or juniors and even then the cost can be prohibitive. Boardwalks and other tourist zones (Times Square, St Augustine, etc…) are successful despite lack of motorization. I freely admit that the student and tourist populations aren't indicative of the general public and that some of these areas aren't necessarily completely car free. It's worth exploring the things that make that kind of pedestrian environment work, though. In my opinion, high density quarters coupled with people who walk because driving is such an unrealistic option… the opposite reasons that people drive everywhere else.

    I do think it's interesting that people take vacations to places they don't need a car or have to drive and consider it 'a break.' It's also worth mentioning we don't consider either group systematically crippled or isolated, unable to travel to where they need to go.

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    Senior Member GodsBassist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
    Something like this is more likely to be successful in Denver where the weather is a bit nicer than in Chicago or Minneapolis where the weather sucks 4-5 months of the year. A lot less people are going to want to venture out as pedestrians when it's sub zero, snowing, and all around miserable. It can still work if the business the rest of the year is good enough though...
    The average lows in Denver are below Chicago's.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
    Something like this is more likely to be successful in Denver where the weather is a bit nicer than in Chicago or Minneapolis where the weather sucks 4-5 months of the year. A lot less people are going to want to venture out as pedestrians when it's sub zero, snowing, and all around miserable. It can still work if the business the rest of the year is good enough though...
    Nice climate is a plus, but I don't think it's required. Downtown shopping, which involved walking outdoors from door to door, was popular well into the late 20th century. I remember Christmas shopping in downtown Detroit every year when I was a kid. Mom took us kids downtown on the bus and we walked around to all the great stores like Crowleys, Hudson's, Sanders, and the first Kresge store. The sidewalks were packed with shoppers, even though that's a cold time of the year in Michigan.

    I'm just saying, there's might be a number of reasons why these pedestrian malls "don't work" but I don't think cold weather is one of the reasons.


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    Senior Member GodsBassist's Avatar
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    Another neighborhood resident who identified himself as "Gary R." visibly scoffed when he heard the plan while standing on the half-mile stretch of Broadway packed with businesses and motor vehicle traffic.
    "No," he said. "Why would you want to do that? This is a busy street that's been here for hundreds of years — that doesn't make any sense."

    My favorite quote. Hundreds of years! It's been like this since the dawn of America herself!

  18. #18
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GodsBassist View Post
    Another neighborhood resident who identified himself as "Gary R." visibly scoffed when he heard the plan while standing on the half-mile stretch of Broadway packed with businesses and motor vehicle traffic.
    "No," he said. "Why would you want to do that? This is a busy street that's been here for hundreds of years — that doesn't make any sense."

    My favorite quote. Hundreds of years! It's been like this since the dawn of America herself!
    I know, and the cars have been there for hundreds of years too!


    "Think Outside the Cage"

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    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I know the pedestrian mall main street thing has been tried in a lot of areas, then done away with. I have a strong suspicion that is not a one size fits all situation. I know it was tried in several towns here in NC and most if not all of them have been done away with. My take on it is you have to have the right combination of stores, population size, available parking and the malls are a good ways away.

    I too grew up shopping downtown areas, I still remember Christmas shopping in Huron, SD... there was a huge snow drift in the middle of the downtown area, people were pushing cars up and over. I don't doubt the perceived convenience of the mall helped to bring the downtown shopping areas down.


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  20. #20
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    I know the pedestrian mall main street thing has been tried in a lot of areas, then done away with. I have a strong suspicion that is not a one size fits all situation. I know it was tried in several towns here in NC and most if not all of them have been done away with. My take on it is you have to have the right combination of stores, population size, available parking and the malls are a good ways away.

    I too grew up shopping downtown areas, I still remember Christmas shopping in Huron, SD... there was a huge snow drift in the middle of the downtown area, people were pushing cars up and over. I don't doubt the perceived convenience of the mall helped to bring the downtown shopping areas down.


    Aaron
    I think the reason the carfree malls were installed was because business was already going downhill. They weren't enough to turn it around but that doesn't mean they should take all the blame. Usually business continued downhill after they took the malls out and let the cars back in.

    What seems to be saving downtown business districts is a new mix of businesses. Here in Lansing we no longer have vacant storefronts. Every single spot is filled by a restaurant or bar. No more stores or banks, just food and liquor.


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  21. #21
    Senior Member wipekitty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
    Something like this is more likely to be successful in Denver where the weather is a bit nicer than in Chicago or Minneapolis where the weather sucks 4-5 months of the year. A lot less people are going to want to venture out as pedestrians when it's sub zero, snowing, and all around miserable. It can still work if the business the rest of the year is good enough though...
    There's a few things that Denver's 16th Street has going for it. There's enough parking within a few blocks and the free shuttle that goes the length of the mall, so conceivably, one could get around the pedestrian mall without doing much actual walking. There's also trains that go straight downtown from parking lots in the 'burbs, making it easy to access. At least a few years back, they had a nice mix of high-end chain stores and some local businesses, making it a shopping destination with something different to offer from what the indoor malls had.

    I think that's the key: people need some reason to travel to the outdoor mall (distinctive shopping or restaurants, or maybe special events) and some easy way to get there without having to pay a lot for parking or exert themselves physically. Even Boulder's downtown mall took a hit in the mid-2000s when a bunch of businesses left for a new shopping center with free parking.

  22. #22
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    I think the reason the carfree malls were installed was because business was already going downhill. They weren't enough to turn it around but that doesn't mean they should take all the blame. Usually business continued downhill after they took the malls out and let the cars back in.

    What seems to be saving downtown business districts is a new mix of businesses. Here in Lansing we no longer have vacant storefronts. Every single spot is filled by a restaurant or bar. No more stores or banks, just food and liquor.
    That is pretty much what is happening in the town nearest me, they built some high dollar housing of the past couple of years that is helping to drive the recovery. What is sad to me is that when we moved here back around 1971 the downtown area was still very viable, all the major department stores still had a presence, they built the mall in 1975 and the downtown went to hell in a handbasket over the next 25 years, due to cronyism and politics it took until nearly 2001 to get the topless bars, tattoo parlors and associated problems out of the area. Now it is on it's way back but still has a long ways to go. Now the problems are at the mall they have started restricting backpacks and unaccompanied teenagers. FWIW I DON'T like the mall and won't shop there. I will spend my dollars with locally owned stores that are anywhere but the mall, or on line.

    Aaron
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