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nowyano

Is New York City the Anomaly or the Goal?

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I have been to the following big cities; Atlanta, Boston, Indianapolis, Detroit, DC, NYC and probably a couple that I can't think of off the top of my head. What my question is concerning is really about big time downtowns.

In every city I've gone to, sans NYC, the major sites are not downtown but in the outer parts of the city you do not generally go to Atlanta to go downtown unless you are there on buisness, same with Boston, the major things are out of the downtown. Granted there are parts of each of these cities that happen downtown all the time but more than not you had to Buckhead or Brookline or Georgetown to do things in these cities.

So is NYC the anomaly in that most of events are in Manhattan or are all major cities trying to replicate the newyorkiness of having everything downtown...

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I like that word, "newyorkiness." :D

If you think about it, if you ignore the outer boroughs, Manhattan does fit the pattern you mention for other major cities, though of course in a more urban fashion.

I think part of the issue is the definition of "downtown." Because New York is such a massive city, people tend to think of all of Manhattan as its "downtown." However, Manhattan alone has all the characteristics of a functional city itself. It has all the residential, commercial, entertainment, etc. characteristics that you would find within the limits of a city like Boston or Atlanta. In such cities the CBD tends to be dominated by business/financial activities, with other functions located in surrounding neighborhoods, as you mentioned. Within Manhattan, the business district is in lower Manhattan, which is in fact the origin of the term "downtown." The various neighborhoods of midtown and upper Manhattan have most of the residential, entertainment, tourism, shopping, and other such uses. To the average visitor, there isn't reason to spend as much time in lower Manhattan, unless there on business.

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I like that word, "newyorkiness." :D

If you think about it, if you ignore the outer boroughs, Manhattan does fit the pattern you mention for other major cities, though of course in a more urban fashion.

I think part of the issue is the definition of "downtown." Because New York is such a massive city, people tend to think of all of Manhattan as its "downtown." However, Manhattan alone has all the characteristics of a functional city itself. It has all the residential, commercial, entertainment, etc. characteristics that you would find within the limits of a city like Boston or Atlanta. In such cities the CBD tends to be dominated by business/financial activities, with other functions located in surrounding neighborhoods, as you mentioned. Within Manhattan, the business district is in lower Manhattan, which is in fact the origin of the term "downtown." The various neighborhoods of midtown and upper Manhattan have most of the residential, entertainment, tourism, shopping, and other such uses. To the average visitor, there isn't reason to spend as much time in lower Manhattan, unless there on business.

San Francisco is another exception to your observation about cities and downtown, which itself is sort of a syllogism, but not germaine to my comment. SF is, as Paul Kantner once observed, 49 sq. miles surrounded by reality (and, conversely, hemmed in by water on three sides and the San Bruno Mountains to the South, so all activity is in the city. The Financial District gives way to the Theatre District, Chinatown, North Beach, SOMA and the Tenderloin. It is very much a city of neighborhoods, like Manhattan, with retail and residences sharing streetscapes with office and small businesses. Now, as more and more corporations move to backoffice operations to the East Bay, empty buildings are being converted into housing (which we sooooo desperately need).

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Birmingham is much like Atlanta too. Birmingham's just a scaled down example. The residential parts of Birmingham are all outside of the "interstate/expressway zone". There are controlled access highways and a mountain that completely surround the urban downtown area (I-20/59, I-65, Red Mountain Expressway, and Red Mountain). All residential areas are outside of this zone. So, as it is, you really don't go into downtown unless you're there for business or a tourist.

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I like that word, "newyorkiness." :D

If you think about it, if you ignore the outer boroughs, Manhattan does fit the pattern you mention for other major cities, though of course in a more urban fashion.

I think part of the issue is the definition of "downtown." Because New York is such a massive city, people tend to think of all of Manhattan as its "downtown." However, Manhattan alone has all the characteristics of a functional city itself. It has all the residential, commercial, entertainment, etc. characteristics that you would find within the limits of a city like Boston or Atlanta. In such cities the CBD tends to be dominated by business/financial activities, with other functions located in surrounding neighborhoods, as you mentioned. Within Manhattan, the business district is in lower Manhattan, which is in fact the origin of the term "downtown." The various neighborhoods of midtown and upper Manhattan have most of the residential, entertainment, tourism, shopping, and other such uses. To the average visitor, there isn't reason to spend as much time in lower Manhattan, unless there on business.

i disagree that downtown manhattan is the primary business district. it may house a lot of the financial institutions, but midtown has a ton of major institutions as well. ernst and young (an accounting firm i believe) is right by times square. i believe bloomberg is on park ave somewhere in midtown as well, and so is met life. there is also a lot of residential downtown and midtown. i do agree that uptown is mostly residential.

i think the problem arises when people consider new york to be only manhattan. yankee stadium isn't in manhattan and neither is shea. and the new york giants and jets don't even play in new york state.

new york is probably the most urban city in the USA though, so it's a tough comparison. it's by far the most densely populated and by far the most populated (i think it's nearly double the population of LA, the second largest).

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I agree with most, that in the most urban cities, it's tough to define downtown. I'd say that most of Boston's attractions are "downtown", but it's not very clear here what all that includes.

As to the original question. I think that it should be the goal of most cities to spread out its "major sites" as long as there are strong public transportation links between them. It overwhelms an area if there is too much "stuff", because these major sites usually aren't pedestrian friendly, and do little to encourage business or residential growth.

I'm concerned that in my native city of Charlotte, that they are cramming too much downtown. In the 1.5 square mile area, there is already an NFL stadium, NBA arena, proposed/approved NASCAR hall of fame, convention center, City Hall, municipal jail, county and federal courts, local branch of the Fed. All of these uses take up at least 1 full city block, and do little improve the quality of life for people living and working downtown......now there is a proposal for a minor league stadium that will take up two more blocks.....I think the city would benefit much more if these "major sites" were spread along the light rail lines currently under construction and planned.

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I agree with most, that in the most urban cities, it's tough to define downtown. I'd say that most of Boston's attractions are "downtown", but it's not very clear here what all that includes.

As to the original question. I think that it should be the goal of most cities to spread out its "major sites" as long as there are strong public transportation links between them. It overwhelms an area if there is too much "stuff", because these major sites usually aren't pedestrian friendly, and do little to encourage business or residential growth.

I'm concerned that in my native city of Charlotte, that they are cramming too much downtown. In the 1.5 square mile area, there is already an NFL stadium, NBA arena, proposed/approved NASCAR hall of fame, convention center, City Hall, municipal jail, county and federal courts, local branch of the Fed. All of these uses take up at least 1 full city block, and do little improve the quality of life for people living and working downtown......now there is a proposal for a minor league stadium that will take up two more blocks.....I think the city would benefit much more if these "major sites" were spread along the light rail lines currently under construction and planned.

i consider boston's downtown area to be the financial district area where most of the tall buildings are. but attractions such as fenway park, the MFA, the museum of science, etc, are not downtown. then there's all the squares and malls and shopping which are not downtown either.

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I agree with most, that in the most urban cities, it's tough to define downtown. I'd say that most of Boston's attractions are "downtown", but it's not very clear here what all that includes.

i consider boston's downtown area to be the financial district area where most of the tall buildings are. but attractions such as fenway park, the MFA, the museum of science, etc, are not downtown. then there's all the squares and malls and shopping which are not downtown either.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that 'most' of Boston's attractions are Downtown, as jim points out Fenway, the MFA, Lansdowne, Allston bar/club district, Newbury, Harvard & Central Squares... aren't Downtown. But there is a lot that is, the Aquarium, Fanueil Hall/Quincy Market, the Common, Downtown Crossing, Haymarket, Boston Garden, The Orpheum, Chinatown... Downtown Boston is basically everything on the Shawmut Peninsula (east of Charles Street) excluding Beacon Hill and the North End. Most Bostonians would probably also exclude the West End and Chinatown (and perhaps the Leather District) from their definition of Downtown, though the city itself includes them in what it dubs, 'Central Boston.'

The Financial District is a smaller piece of Downtown that is roughly from City Hall Plaza to Dewey Square east of the Rose Kennedy Greenway (how weird not to call it west of the Artery :unsure: ). The Financial District is certainly still very ghostly in the evening and on weekends, though that is changing with new residential construction along the Greenway.

I think you'll find in the actual Financial District of Downtown New York, and even on many blocks of Midtown, that a same sleepiness decends in the evening and on weekends (though not so much in Midtown). But Downtown New York also has peripheral attractions such as Battery Park and South Street Seaport that draw people Downtown, and post-Sept. 11th the city has been working very hard to transform Downtown into a 24-hour neighborhood bringing residents and cultural attractions to the area. Believe me, prior to September 11th, Downtown was really not much of a destination for anyone besides the people working there, and people visiting the World Trade Center.

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I think it boils down to geography and then the type of industry in and near the city. NYC's geography is really unique so it automatically forms a more dense climate. As for its downtown, I think more people are residing there. After 9/11 I heard about a ton of rent incentives to get people back and flourishing.

I'm in Minneapolis and we have the luxury of space. The only geographic feature of note is the Mississippi river. No mountains, harbors, islands to restrict expansion. Plus, the genesis of the area was in agriculture and milling so it was easier to spring up little towns along the rail lines and rivers than feel the need to cram and build everything together.

Today, the Mpls downtown (inside the 94 loop and south of the river) is really developing fast. The residential part of it has to do with our highways falling short of servicing so many people spread out SO far, so many opt out of the distant 'burbs and move downtown to eliminate commuting to their downtown employment (the current 'trendiness' of living downtown also added numbers). Minneapolitans are also pretty civic and art-minded (or hope to be perceived that way) so we've also gained an expanded Walker art museum, new public library and new Guthrie theater downtown as well. Our next downtown wave? Hotels. And then a new Twins baseball stadium is coming around the end of the decade. Retail and dining is weak at the moment, but 'twas stronger in the 90s.

But the suburbs here still carry their clout. The new Target Corporate expansion is planned way out to the north. So is the proposed Vikings stadium. Mall of America and Best Buy HQ are in the southern 'burbs. Hopefully I made some points in this ramble. :wacko: I just think most cities will have oscillating periods where the CBD develops and stagnates in certain regards. With current gas prices, many people are looking out the corner of their eyes toward a place like NYC where the high density of mixed ammenities and mass transit can look appealing. I know I do.

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I wouldn't go so far as to say that 'most' of Boston's attractions are Downtown, as jim points out Fenway, the MFA, Lansdowne, Allston bar/club district, Newbury, Harvard & Central Squares... aren't Downtown. But there is a lot that is, the Aquarium, Fanueil Hall/Quincy Market, the Common, Downtown Crossing, Haymarket, Boston Garden, The Orpheum, Chinatown... Downtown Boston is basically everything on the Shawmut Peninsula (east of Charles Street) excluding Beacon Hill and the North End. Most Bostonians would probably also exclude the West End and Chinatown (and perhaps the Leather District) from their definition of Downtown, though the city itself includes them in what it dubs, 'Central Boston.'

I guess this goes back to what you consider downtown again, Boston Garden, The Aquarium, Quincy Market and North End I've always considered to be The North End and not downtown, Downtown Crossing I do not consider to be a tourist draw, ...

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Boy, I hope it's not the goal...I love NYC to visit, but sure hope I never live in one.

Having said that, a lot of the smaller towns here in Texas that have been dying the last 40 years are really trying to revitalize the town centers. It's kind of neat to see, like in my Dad's hometown where the town square used to be dead, and now it's lively, with businesses, people...it made both of us happy to see that.

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Chicago is New York. When you live in the

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NYC or rather Manhattan borough, is a completely planned city. (A lot of people don't know that) Before it was built, city planners imposed a grid pattern across the island, and enforced it over the decades. Even Central Park is an artifical environment that was predesigned and terraformed to that design to make the the park you see today. It's because of this planning, that most cities lack (especially new ones), that I think makes Manhattan a unique place in the USA. I can't speak for the other boroughs as I am not as familiar with them, but possibly the same kind of thing took place there.

NYC also did not make the mistake of going though massive urban renewal programs that were common in the 50s - 70s that destroyed vast areas of other big cities in the USA. For example they did not build an elevated highway though the city and they did not remove their transit system. These kind of projects had the effect of driving massive numbers of people out to the suburbs in other cities, and the resulting decay caused even more urban renewal. Detroit is the best example of this.

I would say that Philadelphia comes closest to resembling NYC in terms of the question being asked.

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NYC or rather Manhattan borough, is a completely planned city. (A lot of people don't know that) Before it was built, city planners imposed a grid pattern across the island, and enforced it over the decades. Even Central Park is an artifical environment that was predesigned and terraformed to that design to make the the park you see today. It's because of this planning, that most cities lack (especially new ones), that I think makes Manhattan a unique place in the USA. I can't speak for the other boroughs as I am not as familiar with them, but possibly the same kind of thing took place there.

NYC also did not make the mistake of going though massive urban renewal programs that were common in the 50s - 70s that destroyed vast areas of other big cities in the USA. For example they did not build an elevated highway though the city and they did not remove their transit system. These kind of projects had the effect of driving massive numbers of people out to the suburbs in other cities, and the resulting decay caused even more urban renewal. Detroit is the best example of this.

I would say that Philadelphia comes closest to resembling NYC in terms of the question being asked.

this is correct, NYC was planned quite intensively when it was built. part of the plan was a park every so many blocks. i'm not sure if the outer boroughs were planned this way as well (my guess is they weren't), but taht's why NYC is the way it is. most other cities just sort of happened (like boston's roads were a bunch of horse and buggy paths, which is why there's no way to make sense of the street pattern there).

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First I will talk about Boston. I love Boston (and im a future New Yorker). I am from Hartford and so love and support Hartford and I have visited many cities in the northeast including Boston, Worcester, Springfield, Burlington, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Baltimore, Providence and New Haven. What can I say Boston is a great city. When I go to Boston I consider downtown to include things like Faeunial Hall, Downtown Crossing, Chinatown, the State Capital, part of the Back Bay and maby about down to the Christian Science Tower on Huntington Avenue. There are great neighborhoods outside of downtown such as the North End (which could be considered part of downtown)and the area around BU and around Northeastern. Boston may not be perfect but it is better then a lot of cities and still has the hustle and bustle of a big city which means it has people walking the streets, a strong retail climate, a strong restaurant/bar/club scene as well as a great sports/performing arts/musuem scene.

Now with New York, I love New York City. Yes it is differant from Boston but in a differant way. It is one of those global cities like Chicago. Manhattan has business areas as well as cultural areas (Little Italy, Chinatown, etc.), neighborhoods (residential areas near business and away from business), waterfront musuem/residential/business areas (Battery Park) and trendy funky areas (Chelsea, SoHo, etc). I love the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. But New York even has more going for it ....the boroughs all of which offer a hundreds of new opportunities. Besides Manhattan I know the most about the Bronx which does get a bad reputation but is home to such educational institutions as Fordham University, Manhattan College and the College of Mt St Vincent. Arthur Avenue in the Bronx has a strong Italian presence and the Bronx is home to the Bronx Zoo, the botanical gardens and Yankee Stadium.

I know in Hartford a lot of work is underway in the city's downtown to get life back into the city after 5 and before 9. More then 2 billion dollars worth of development is underway including a new convention center, hotel, new condos, apartments, a new science center and a new community college. Some projects have just been completed, some are under construction and some are in the planning stages. But past these projects small progress has been made thanks or no thanks to these projects....many new restaurants and clubs have opened up, a culinary institute is moving from the suburbs into the city and two insurance companies announced that together they will be bringing 4000 jobs to the city. Right now the focus is on downtown and expanding downtown into areas cut off by the highways. There are other areas of the city which may not be receiving the major public and private investment but are receiving investment nonetheless by more local developers.

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I agree with altlvr. Charlotte is not progressive enough to actually plan out where everything is going. They are just hearing proposals that seem to good to be true and pushing them through. Sure, it seems like there is a lot of growth, but it's definately the wrong kind, in the wrong place.

Cities like New York City that have plans for everything are what cities should model themselves on. I don't mean to say that every city should become NYC, but that they should take on the same scheme in planning to make sure things aren't crammed in one tight spot. Density will happen on its own, you shouldn't force it.

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I think another great thing (and perhaps model for other cities) about NYC is its extensive public transportation network. You can take trains, ferries, buses or even trams - from Roosevelt Island - and of course subways to just about anywhere. And the subway system still remains incredibly cheap (you can conceivably ride 40 miles from the Bronx through Manhattan to Queens for only a $2 fare) when you compare it to other global cities like London. I love the fact that you can make it to Midtown Manhattan to Yankee Stadium or Shea Stadium on the subway in less than 20 minutes.

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