This snapshot I took in Chelsea of a typical scene in New York shows how wonderful a city can be when it is pedestrian oriented
Every time I visit New York, I’m like a kid in a candy store. Why? I’m an urbanist at heart and New York is brimming with urbanism. No, it’s exploding with urbanism! I love walking and being a pedestrian free to roam the city, and whenever I’m here in New York (usually for a week at a time), I feel liberated and empowered as I dart through the energetic streets, slide my MetroCard on my way down into the ubiquitous subway stations, and jaywalk whenever and wherever I please. The way New York and other East Coast cities are built, compact and mixed-use, encourage a thriving pedestrian culture. What are some key ideas that we can bring back from a city like New York that can continue to help Los Angeles (and specifically Downtown LA) develop that wonderful pedestrian urban lifestyle and lessen our dependence (read: handicap) on automobiles?
Posted in bicycle oriented, community involvement, downtown los angeles, education, environmentally green, Ideas for Downtown LA, parks, pedestrian oriented, public spaces, smart growth
Tagged flatiron district new york, gansevoort plaza meatpacking district, gansevoort plaza new york, greeley square new york, herald square new york, pedestrian plazas downtown la, pedestrian plazas los angeles, pedestrian plazas new york, road diets downtown la, road diets los angeles, road diets manhattan, road diets new york
Some ideas on how to bolster pedestrian connections — between City West and the rest of Downtown LA — include making the 110 overpasses safer and more attractive for pedestrians (mainly Wilshire Blvd and 7th Street)
As Downtown LA continues to evolve and mature into a multi-faceted urban center that’s not only a commercial hub but a bona fide residential community, it becomes even more important that we focus on creating an environment that is pedestrian friendly making it enjoyable and convenient for residents to live, work, and play in. That enhancement to the pedestrian realm — wider sidewalks, narrower streets, more bike lanes, etc. — in Downtown LA is needed to create the strong walkable connections that eventually spawns a walking culture.
Posted in architecture, art and culture, bicycle oriented, city west, community involvement, downtown los angeles, economic development, environmentally green, financial district, Ideas for Downtown LA, pedestrian oriented, public spaces, smart growth
Rumor has it that Whole Foods is looking at opening in the new 8th and Grand project (Photo: Carmel Partners)
What do we want more of in Downtown LA? More grocery stores of course. The growing residential population downtown has been clamoring for more grocery options (even though we really do love our Ralphs Fresh Fare!). A source working closely with Whole Foods has confirmed to me in an email that the Austin, Texas-based supermarket chain “is looking at a number of sites” in Downtown LA.
Posted in downtown los angeles, environmentally green, financial district, food, mixed-use development, real estate, retail
Tagged whole foods 8th and grand, whole foods downtown la, whole foods downtown los angeles, whole foods dtla, whole foods los angeles
A new Wetzel’s Pretzels sign points down toward the 7th/Metro subway station entrance where the new chain eatery is now open
A new Wetzel’s Pretzels has replaced the original “subway snack bar” that symbolized a new direction that LA was taking when it comes to walking vs driving and urban vs suburban. Back in summer of 2011, “Carmegeddon” was the talk of the town as many Angelenos feared the impending “shut down” and “collapse” of our city due to the closure of the 405 (aka, the Westside’s largest parking lot) as part of a billion dollar freeway-widening project. (Don’t we know by now that widening a freeway actually induces more traffic because it encourages driving?) The amount of irrational widespread national media coverage of the “impending shut down” spoke volumes about the general public’s negative impression of Los Angeles as an auto-obsessed town utterly dependent on the car where a single freeway closure could incapacitate all Angelenos!
Posted in cheap eats, downtown los angeles, environmentally green, financial district, food, mass transportation, pedestrian oriented, restaurants
Tagged wetzel's pretzels 7th/metro station, wetzel's pretzels downtown la, wetzel's pretzels downtown la locations, wetzel's pretzels los angeles
The new parklets downtown expand the realm of public space, taking over a metered parking spot and replacing it with more seating for example
Yesterday, Downtown LA celebrated the grand opening of two new parklets along Spring Street in the Historic Core, which has become one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in Downtown LA now active with pedestrians and bicyclists almost around the clock. In case you’re not quite sure what a “parklet” is, they’re basically mini parks extended from the sidewalk that replace usually one or two metered parking spots. The most amazing thing about these parklets — besides the fact that they actually do expand our public space — is that they represent a change in attitude about what Los Angeles should be. In Los Angeles a decade ago, if you were to propose getting rid of a parking spot for any reason whatsoever, the pitch forks and torches would be coming out in mob form. And in some backward places in LA, that’s still the case unfortunately (I’m looking at you West LA).
One of the first redesign options for Pershing Square is to get rid of the walls to increase visibility and accessibility, returning it closer to the original form seen here in 1965 (Photo: LAPL)
Pershing Square has gone through several major overhauls since its inception in 1866 when it was then called La Plaza Abaja, or “The Lower Plaza.” In its current state (another major overhaul designed by Ricardo Legorreta and completed in 1992), purple, yellow and beige walls surround most of the square with giant pink cylinders lining the wall on Hill St, blocking accessibility and visual connections. In addition, long driveways on all four sides of the park — leading cars into an underground parking garage — run parallel to the sidewalk (instead of space saving perpendicular driveways) creating uncrossable rifts between the sidewalk and square. It’s as if the park was designed deliberately to cater to the automobile with the intention of keeping people out of the park.
Posted in architecture, community involvement, downtown los angeles, economic development, education, environmentally green, financial district, guest writer, historic core, Ideas for Downtown LA, parks, pedestrian oriented, pershing square, public spaces, smart growth
Tagged bryant park new york, friends of pershing square, pershing square downtown la, pershing square dtla, pershing square los angeles, pershing square pictures, union square san francisco
The newly completed STV-designed station canopy at Pershing Square gives the station a stronger identity and higher visibility
Pretty much exactly a year ago, we learned that two subway stations in Downtown LA were getting new modern station canopies (courtesy of Metro) that would make the portals both more visible to riders (especially visitors unfamiliar with LA’s transit network) and to help protect the escalators and entryway from the elements. A year later, the two downtown stations — Civic Center and Pershing Square — have now completed construction on the new oval-shaped glass canopies.
Posted in architecture, downtown los angeles, environmentally green, historic core, mass transportation, pedestrian oriented, pershing square, public spaces, smart growth
Tagged los angeles subway stations, new subway canopies in los angeles, pershing square subway station, subway stations in los angeles, transit in los angeles
Post WWII, Grand Central Terminal faded away from the hearts and minds of New Yorkers and was almost demolished in the 60s, but today, the station is now more relevant than ever as one of New York’s top destinations — a path LA Union Station will hopefully follow
I just got back to LA after spending a week in New York. Every time I visit America’s largest urban center, I am inspired by the incredible urbanism that defines the city. The infrastructure and built environment, mix of architecture, diversity of businesses, and strong pedestrian culture never ceases to amaze me. For us in LA, as we continue to press for change — improving our own urbanism in a city still dominated by a suburban, car-oriented mentality — it would behoove us to look at successful models and examples from other cities that could be applied to Downtown LA. One of those prime examples is Grand Central Terminal in Midtown at 42nd Street, which has experienced an amazing turnaround from irrelevancy and near demolition in the 1960s to one of the greatest rail stations in the world today.
Posted in architecture, bicycle oriented, community involvement, downtown los angeles, economic development, environmentally green, Ideas for Downtown LA, mass transportation, mixed-use development, pedestrian oriented, retail, smart growth, union station
Tagged grand central manhattan, grand central new york, grand central station new york, grand central terminal new york, union station downtown la, union station los angeles
It has been 50 years since the last streetcar ran on any street in Los Angeles and now we will be bringing it back
As an ardent supporter of the LA Streetcar (read my op-ed piece here), I am elated by this great game-changing news! Just announced from the official LA Streetcar Twitter page at about 8:40pm, @lastreetcar tweeted: “You wanted streetcar. You got it. Unofficial results are in: 73% YES! Thank you #DTLA!!!!
#WeWantStreetcar.” According to LA Streetcar, only registered voters in the Community Facilities District who reside within three blocks of the proposed streetcar route voted in the mail-in-ballot election with over 10,000 registered voters. Because of the relatively fast construction process associated with streetcars, downtowners could be riding in the streetcar by 2016.
Please check out the official LA Streetcar press release below for full complete details:
Posted in community involvement, downtown los angeles, economic development, environmentally green, mass transportation, pedestrian oriented, smart growth
Tagged downtown la streetcar, la streetcar, la streetcar downtown la, la streetcar passes, los angeles streetcar
Om Nom Organics, a new local market offering mostly organic food items, is now open at the Eastern Columbia near 9th and Broadway
It’s always exciting to have another grocery option open in Downtown LA, catering to the growing residential population. Last week, Om Nom Organics opened at the Eastern Columbia near the corner of 9th and Broadway. At less than a 1,000 square feet, the space may be small, but the new local market is packed with a wide variety of food items. According to the assistant manager, Steven Wilkin, approximately 95% of the products offered at the store is organic.
Posted in downtown los angeles, environmentally green, food, historic core, retail
Tagged om nom organics, om nom organics downtown la, om nom organics dtla, om nom organics los angeles, om nom organics market, organic markets in downtown la, organic markets in los angeles