People PlacesPeople Places Cases

These are examples, lists, links to case studies, and personal accounts of places that have characteristics of people-oriented places. After all, my People Places site promises information about people-oriented places. Readers should ask: Where are they? Show me the city!

Well, the real world is not like theory. In truth, there are very few places in the world where human beings are given precedence over automobiles and where urban planning and architecture are designed around people as opposed to functions. I include places that have at least tried to make places more people-friendly or are pursuing policies that integrate multi-modal transit and mixed use developments into planning.

Lists

  • Foot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros
  • Walker's Paradises from walkscore.com, this list shows areas of cities with a Walk Score of 90 or above. *excellent*
  • For small towns, check out ePodunk's ranking of walkable small towns.
  • 60 of the World's Great Places This list is presented by Project for Public Spaces, a group that works to create and sustain public places that build communities. Some examples: Balboa Park in San Diego, CA; Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, MO; Covent Gardens in London; and Staples Street Bus Station in Corpus Christi, TX. These places are meant to serve as examples and guides. I hope that some of the qualities of these places can be infused into the everyday environments of people everywhere.
  • Richard Florida's Creativity Index. This index claims to measure the power of a city to draw members of the creative class, members of which Florida claims are the key to economic growth. This list, to me, indicates a way to think about fine-grained amenities and aesthetics that people enjoy, as opposed to mammoth sports stadiums and downtown malls. I think Florida's qualitative research into what attracts young people to cities sheds light on what makes cities great. See his books Cities and the Creative Class and The Rise of the Creative Class.

    Top Creativity Index ranking for regions of over 1 million:

    1. San Francisco
    2. Austin
    3. San Diego
    4. Boston
    5. Seattle
    6. Raleigh-Durham
    7. Houston
    8. Washington-Baltimore
    9. New York
    10. Dallas

  • Car-Free Areas. There are very, very few operating car-free areas in the world, but some emerging projects as well as an established list of car-free places:
  • "Best Places to Live" lists. I'm skeptical about "best places to live" rankings because they place an assumed value on things like climate, cultural attractions, sports teams, and other amenities of a place. Everyone wants and values different things, so you shouldn't take any of these best places rankings as absolute, unless you strongly agree with the values placed on the ranked items. You are probably better off making your own ranking at a Web site that allows you to place your own value on amenities and characteristics of a place (see, for example, FindYourSpot.com or the Find your Best Place survey of Sperling's Best Places).

Cities / Neighborhoods

These are specific cities and projects within cities that support various ideals of people-oriented places. Many are oriented toward ecologically-sound, sustainable development. Others are oriented toward New Urbanism ideals.

Glenwood Park, Atlanta
Has been built to provide a mix of housing types, with some retail and commercial, with an eye toward walkability. Winner of awards and recognition for New Urbanist ideals.
EcoCity Cleveland
Helps people live in greater balance with nature. Emphasis includes land-use planning and transportation policy issues to promote smarter growth in northeast Ohio, USA.
BedZed
Environmentally-friendly, energy-efficient mix of housing and work space in Beddington, Sutton, United Kingdom.
Civano
Master-planned community that combines sustainable living with the look and feel of a small town. Located in southeast Tucson, AZ, USA.
Home Zones
A home zone is a pedestrian and cyclist-oriented group of streets where motorists are encouraged, through traffic calming and other features, to drive safely. This site includes a directory of home zones in the United Kingdom.
Global Ecovillage Network
Network of ecovillages with emphasis on ecologically, economically, and culturally sustainable future. Includes a directory of ecovillages. A subset network, Urban Ecovillage Network, has an urban emphasis.

Pictures

On the opening page of People Places, I switch out various photos that visually capture what I mean by "people-oriented places." These are places that I've visited and really enjoyed. Click the thumbnail photo for a bit larger image.

Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois, USA. An urban park can be a vibrant, interesting place with activities oriented around music, art, gardens, sculpture, skyline admiring, walking, food, and people watching. (See more photos.)

State Street, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. This street serves as the main cultural axis of the capital city of Wisconsin and shows how a bus-only street can operate (cars do cross State Street at intersections) with a canopy of trees, cafes, restaurants, stores, and cultural centers. Unfortunately, panhandlers exploit this public space and harass pedestrians. (See more photos.)

Graben Strasse, Vienna, Austria. In the pedestrian streets near Saint Stephan's, transit stations below support pedestrian-only streets above with cafes, shops, people, balloons, and dogs. This is a touristy section of the city, but it shows what a pedestrian-only area supported by underground transit looks like and how people do enjoy it. And the Trzesniewski sandwiches around the corner!

Personal Experience

I'd like to list here articles or links to articles in which people describe experiences about where they live and how it supports people-orientation.

Walk Los Angeles with me
A blog and a Web site about trekking across LA on foot.
Urbification
Alternative transit and related issues. California.
Live from the Third Rail
Washington, DC transit.
London Underground
Mind the gap, blog the tube.
73 urban journeys
Experiences on the 73 bus in London.
Route 79
Experiences on the 79 bus in London.
citybytes
Musings on Mumbai City from a self-described space-alist: "I love writing and musing on spaces and I am looking forward to designing and conceiving innovative city spaces!"
I'm working on an article about how I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin without a car
I will include practical issues, using the transit system, shopping, and how my neighborhood supports walkability.
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