Granted I might be thinking more of walkable than thriving, but to me I think those two are almost interchangable. At first, I thought maybe it is the heat and humidity especially in the summer. But Portland, Maine, Boston, New York, and Providence, RI have winters whose colds are equivalent to the South's hots, and their downtowns remain walkable and alive in the winter. Even cities that I have seen with fairly walkable downtowns (Birmingham comes to mind) do not seem to have especially thriving scenes.
Now I know that a lot of places have thriving neighborhoods outside of the cities' cores, and I also know that a lack of public transportation infrastructure may hurt downtowns' growth. As well as the fact that a lot of cities in the South are far reaching (land wise). In addition, for whatever reason, there are a lot of drivers in the south so there is a need parking which many downtowns may not have. So I guess what I am asking is just what the topic description reads: Are thriving downtowns important to urban areas or are they only an added bonus?
Edited by nowyano, 13 October 2009 - 03:48 PM.