Halloween: The Night where Urban Boundaries Fade

[Trick or treating in St Paul, c. 1948.]
My uncle grew up in St Paul in the early 30s. At the drop of a hat, he'll tell you about it. Actually, it doesn't even take a hat. Now that I think about it, he'll tell you about it at the rustle of a squirrel in the leaves, or a wisp of wind, or even a momentary lull in conversation. The slightest hesitation on your part might trigger a tale of the old neighborhood, of who lived on which corner, of how this one time they went swimming down in the pond and then the police drove up in the paddy wagon and threatened them with the hoosgow and it sent the kids scrambling up the bushes and the cops just laughed.

My favorite stories involve the old streetcar. Kids would pelt it with snowballs in the winter. In the summer, they'd sneak up and scramble onto it and pull the electric arm off the catenary wires, pissing off everyone on board. Worst of all, the really bad kids would hide in the bushes and when nobody was looking, put grease on the tracks so that the streetcar couldn't brake going down the hill. (For the record, my uncle claims he was too good to ever do such a thing.) Occasionally they'd get caught, parents would be informed, and vague hell would break loose.

I'm sure you too have heard these stories of childhood from another era. It seems like another planet, kids (mostly boys) handed unfathomable freedom. This was the time when parents would say "go out and play in the street" unironically, when gangs of dirty boys would find ways of getting even dirtier, when boys were boys and men were men who didn't even pretend to talk to women or children.

Granted, it's all probably blown out of proportion, filtered through the distortions of nostalgia and forgetting, but these kinds of stories always made me jealous. When I was growing up, did I have the same kinds of adventure? Was I allowed to roam the city, to have streetcar explorations, to find and create unintentional parks? What kinds of urban exploration do kids uncover today, in our world of lawsuits and parental paranoia?

Looking back, I'd have to say that I did all right. I played in the forest, cut through the back yards, attended impossible capture the flag parties, and had a secret club in my tree house. And the biggest adventures for a 90s kid in the suburbs happened on Halloween. This was the best, the time when the young adventure overlapped with the adult world around us. This was the night when the world of play intersected with the surrounding grouchy universe, when doors were literally opened up before you and you uncovered the best surprises.

There was a certain point, some years after the great Halloween blizzard, when trick or treating reached its peak. In those autumns, my friends and I were were dedicated, questing for the best neighborhoods. We maximized our candy to effort ratio like venture capitalists, a cold accounting of candy bar size and trick or treat frequency and total distance. Our meccas were those neighborhoods with large McMansions filled with bored housewives, moneyed people too distracted to give Halloween due diligence. We figured out that these places, a bit off the beaten track, you might get full-size candy bars. We found one house where the parents had run out of candy and were giving out full cans of pop. We went back twice, switching parts of our costumes to confuse the gatekeepers.

Unlike other childhood adventures, Halloween was deeply urban. On this one night, we had permission to annoy and harass the people around us, the otherwise dark and empty homes. We wrangled whole streets filled with windows that, on any other night, flickered in unison to the dull glow of the television, breathing dead blue light. On Halloween they came to life. Porch lights were left on, and doorways were fair game. We'd push the evening as far as we could, our bags of candy filling far past any recommended daily allowance. We waded into previously uncharted suburbia, culs-de-sac far over our horizon. Few geographers have known the wonder of our Halloween explorations. The city was our territory. We were the great explorers.

These last few years, I've been spending Halloween at my father's house, in one of St Paul's oldest nicest neighborhoods by Summit Avenue. It's fun to hand out candy. It's a highlight of the year, a continual parade of kids going up and down the sidewalks, mounting old porches. In the course of the evening, you see lazy kids, neighbor kids, kids with way to much surgary energy, and lots of parents lurking in the background. It's hard not to enjoy dispensing crappy chocolate and good will from the comfort of the living room.

In St Paul, the Summit Avenue area attracts kids from all over the city. Parents and kids come from the poor neighborhoods on the other side of the freeway to wander the doorways of the fancy mansions.  I suppose this happens in every city, families crossing the tracks and trekking to the grand hills to receive their allotted sugar handouts. This is the one night where neighborhoods drop their suspicions, where people of color feel slightly less unwelcome, where for one night the cities divisions scramble themselves and the boundaries of the city blur.

That seems to be what Halloween is really about. People in scary movies say that, on Halloween, the membrane between the living and the dead is thinner than ever. You could say the same thing about cities. Gates, glances, and doorways are more open on Halloween. The membrane of privacy that normally separates us thins and frays, and for one day people shed paranoia and welcome each other for a few meaningless seconds. Otherwise invisible parts of the city appear. People that wouldn't otherwise, cross paths.

It's not much. It's hardly important. It's just a piece of tiny shrink-wrapped mediocre chocolate from a rustbelt Pennsylvania factory. But the exchange happens thousands of times, over and again, in homes in every neighborhood in every city. I have it on good faith that 73% of total annual doorbell ringings occur tonight. More porches are stepped upon in a three-hour stretch of time than in all the rest of winter combined. Tonight you will see a thousand children, and somewhere in your backyard, a pack of boys is experiencing the kind of freedom found only in old men's tales. Enjoy the meaningless exchange, because this kind of offhand encounter is the stuff that cities are made of.

Twin City Pumpkins #2


Sidewalk Game #11: Gum Galaxy

Where the pavements are covered, like a rash, in chewing gum, use chalk to draw lines to connect the pieces of gum in stellar constellations. Name then in Latin (if you don’t know any Latin make it up).

[Ben Wilson's sidewalk gum art.]

Reading the Highland Villager #70

[The dread sidewalks of Highland Village.]
[Basically the problem is that the best source of Saint Paul streets & sidewalks news is the Highland Villager, a very fine and historical newspaper. This wouldn't be a problem, except that its not available online. You basically have to live in or frequent Saint Paul to read it. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager so that you don't have to. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.]

Headline: Owners object to how St. Paul charges for its street services
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: There will be a public hearing at the City Council for people to complain about right-of-way maintenance fees. The most common complaint is that the city has begun charging for all property, including nonprofits, churches, and schools. [This is a big deal in St Paul because it’s home to so many non-taxed property owners, including the State government. I saw one statistic that claimed that non-taxable property made up 30% of the city, but of course, that includes tons of river and parkland. Anyway, point is that the city needs to somehow raise money from nonprofit and institutional property holders. –Ed.]

Headline: Ayd Mill connection back for discussion
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The [long long typically St Paul] saga of St Paul’s Ayd Mill road is back for discussion due to the impending reconstruction of the Hamline Avenue bridge over Ayd Mill. Neighbors living along the North end of the road, near Hamline and Selby avenues. have been lobbying CM Carter III, who has agreed to “restart the public discussion” about the fate of the [semi-useless] stretch of old late-50s era freeway. Article includes short [interesting] history of debates over the road, including a 1990s plan to turn it into a linear park that was rejected by the Planning Commission, and the Mayor Kelly-era plan to connect the North end of the road to I-94. [Look for much, much more on this topic in the Villager and on this very website. –Ed.]

Headline: Commission OKs plan for Great River Passage with a few tweaks
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Planning Commission approved the Great River Passage, a large land-use plan for the entire stretch of the St Paul riverfront. Debate over the plan was largely about process, whether or not this plan would erase the need for future debates and public meetings about specific land use decisions. Another point of controversy was the re-use of the Watergate Marina site, and whether or not it would be a good site for an “environmental education center.”

Headline: Bank eyes major redevelopment at Snelling-Selby corner
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Plans for a new development at the site of the [strange, wood paneled pebbled concrete] Associated Bank building on the corner of Selby and Snelling. [a.k.a. “Snelby.”] “A mixed-use development has been proposed, although few details are available.” Article includes lots of rumors, including: there may or may not be a grocery store, the current buildings may or not be demolished, there may or may not be 300 luxury apartments. The bank has signed a contract with Ryan Companies to be the developer.

Headline: Lexington Parkway bus, other route changes in line for Central Corridor
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Metro Transit has released a modified version of the plan for bus routes after the LRT line is complete. The major change is to the new Lexington Parkway bus, which will now travel along I-35E for a brief stretch after complaints from people living along the southern stretch of Lexington. The University Avenue (local stop) bus will be at 20 minute intervals instead of every half hour.

Headline: Better signal timing coming to Hiawatha
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version:The stop lights along Hiawatha Avenue [the almost completely impassable non-freeway, non-street which is supposed to somehow turn into a transit-oriented development site] are being re-timed. [Yes. This will fix everything.]

Headline: Council votes to save Island Station, other historic sites
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council has declared that the Island station power plant, the stairway behind the JJ Hill house, and two Ramsey Hill houses shall not be destroyed. [As mentioned in last fortnight's RTHV, the old power plant was under threat of demolition by a developer. –Ed.]

Headline: Council approves moratorium on west end of Grand Avenue
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council passed a one-year moratorium on development along Grand between Cretin and Fairview because a developer built an apartment building there. [Oy. This isn't quite as bad as I want to think, I'm tempted to say, because it's going to be a study of the current zoning. If we're lucky, they will still keep Grand Avenue zoned for density, just make it more logical in this area. Of course, given the track record of decision making along this end of the city, I'm not holding my breath for this outcome... -Ed.]

Headline: St Paul adopts regulations for pedal cars that ply city streets
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The City Council adopted "fees, penalties, and other regulations" for pedal pubs. Regulations includes [unspecified] route and time restrictions.

Headline: Suggestions aired to address problems with Summit-U club
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: A "private club" om Milton Street is attracting loiterers. Neighbors are concerned.

Headline: Mac-Grove supports license for Shish's new Grand cafe
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The local neighborhood group will not try to prevent a Grand Avenue restuarant from serving beer and wine. "The restaurant plans to have a pianist occasionally."

Headline: Judge sides with developer in suit over Pelham site plan
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city has lost a lawsuit over a plan to re-develop a site near the city's industrial area between University Avenue and I-94. Neighbors had protested that the site plans were too auto oriented, and did not fit with the TOD designs near the new LRT. The Planning Commission had approved the industrial site plan, but the City Council overturned the Commission's decision, and denied the application. The judge criticized the council, and said that the site conformed to zoning. Article includes quote from the judge: "The council's interpretation of the newly revised zoning ordinance produced an absurd and unreasonable result." [Score one for the Planning Commission! Are we always right? Stay tuned. -Ed.]

Headline: BZA grants variances for new Mac-Grove roof, solar panels
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: A house on Lincoln Avenue can add solar panels to their roof, according to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Headline: SHA committee favors the Lexington's plan for rooftop patio
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Summit Hill Association neighborhood group is supporting the proposed rooftop patio at the [old-school, white, fancy, non-St Thomas student frequented] Lexington Restaurant. [Please note contrast with the new-school, less white, less fancy, St Thomas student frequented Wild Onion. I guess patio drinking is OK as long as you stick to Pinot Grigio.] The suggested time for the patio to stop serving liquor is 9:00pm. [Do people in St Paul stay out past 9? I have no evidence of that. -Ed.] Article includes following delightful quote from neighbor:  "'It's like a ghost town back there,' he said of the area behind the Lexington."

Headline: Discussion begins on how to make Grand Avenue safer for pedestrians
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Article on how the Mac-Groveland Community Council, the Summit Hill Association, and the Grand Avenue Business Association [that's the Highland Villager's sacred trifecta!] are teaming up to look at "traffic safety improvements" for Grand Avenue following the tragic death of a young student, hit by a car at the corner of Hamline. Article is vague about suggestions improvements, but mentions education campaigns, "stepped-up enforcement," bumpouts, pedestrian activated crossing signals, motor-vehicle turning restrictions, and pedestrian medians. [The main issue isn't Grand, which is pretty calm. The main issue is the North-South cross streets. Almost all of these, except Fairview, could use a heavy dose of traffic calming. -Ed.] Article includes highly annoying sidebar of "safety tips."

Headline: Additional public art chances available at the Union Depot
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority (RCRRA) [eew, the worst acronym of all time (WAAT)?] is soliciting bids for more artwork in the Union Depot, due November 13.


A Vote for the Voter ID Amendment is a Vote Against Cities

[Voting in Minneapolis, 2008 primaries.]
There are many reasons to oppose the Voter ID Amendment on Minnesota ballots next week. It's unnecessary and expensive. It will disenfranchise students, the elderly, poor people, and people of color, further discouraging them from participating in our democracy. It will mean that Minnesota no longer leads the nation in voter turnout each year. It's dishonest, unclear, and sponsored by corporate oligarchs. It's easily the most depressing and cynical piece of legislation in my living memory, disenfranchising people in a way that hasn't been done since Jim Crow. Few things anger me more than throwing up roadblocks to voting.

But there's another reason that you may not have thought of. The Voter ID amendment will tilt the scales of politics even farther against people living in cities, in favor of suburban home owners. A vote for the amendment is a vote against urban life. Permit me to explain...

The Long Legacy of Jeffersonian Anti-Urban Bias

It's no secret that many of the founding fathers had it out for cities. Thomas Jefferson was undoubtedly the worst. Most famously, he said: "I view great cities as pestilential to the morals'." Elsewhere he writes about the connection between rural life and democracy. Jefferson believed that were corrupt and corrupting, that proper citizenship only existed in a context of independent property owners, where each citizen owned their own piece of land. He wrote:
I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get plied upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe.

For Jefferson, cities were unorganized and  irrational. They bred  revolutionary chaos. People who lived in dense, unorganized housing could not be trusted to think clearly. As you probably know, the constitution guaranteed voting rights for white males who owned property. Anyone without property was deemed unworthy of participating in democracies.

Sure, things have changed since then. But the anti-urban Jeffersonian bias is still firmly rooted in US policy. During the Great Depression, FDR introduced programs aimed at fostering home ownership, things like the Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction and the (racist, anti-urban) federal mortgage insurance. These policies form a huge policy bias in favor of home ownerships, and against urban density provided by rental housing. From a political perspective, encouraging home ownership was seen as a way to fight against radical left politics. People who owned homes, it was thought, were far less likely to go on strike (or become communists).  Politically and economically, policies supporting home ownership are deeply entrenched within the US tax code and the US psyche.

[Voting in Southwest Minneapolis, 2008 election.]
Urbanism and the Need for Rental Rights

You might be thinking: Why does this matter? Isn't it good to own your own house? Isn't that the American dream?

The problem with a democratic system biased in favor of home ownership is that it diminishes the potential of urban living. Cities are built around flexibility and density. Healthy cities require easy mobility. People need to be able to move quickly, to keep up with rapidly changing economic and social circumstances. Cities allow for many different kinds of lifestyles and housing choices. Cities are built around a core of rental housing, and the flexibility and choice that it provides.

This is more true today than ever before. Changing demographics and a changing economic environment means  more people are demanding flexible rental housing. Demographically, the nuclear family (and their single family house) are becoming increasingly rare. Instead, our population is composed of single-person households, "empty nesters", and the elderly who don't need large houses. Similarly, more and more jobs are short-term, temporary, or contract situations. People (especially the young) are changing jobs more and more frequently (if they can get them at all). Finally, rising energy prices are incentivizing people to live in smaller homes, nearer to transit. 

All of these factors mean that we need to do more -- not less -- to accommodate new more flexible urban lifestyles. We need to figure out ways to engage citizens that bypass the traditional homeowner-based model (e.g. neighborhood groups).

The voter ID amendment  poses problems for those with urban lifestyles, particularly those in rental housing. Young people move around frequently because of shifting jobs and social relationships. Huge percentages of young people today do NOT have their current address on their driver's license (myself included). Many people might not have up-to-date energy bills.

The voter ID amendment creates a situation where, if you own a home, you can vote easily. But if you are a renter, voting is going to require a bunch of additional steps (e.g. going to the DMV to update your license). When faced with these additional hurdles, how many people simply won't bother? Do we want to live in a society where voting is easy for those who own homes, and difficult for those who don't?

[Lines to vote in Pershing Park, 2008.]
Ownership Society

I don't know how it happened, but some time back, I found myself reading a newspaper comment thread. I know; it was dumb. It was a column written about the St Paul Student Housing ordinance, and I was really curious about what the usual newspaper trolls might say about the issue.

One of the comments (which I can't find right now) expressed the following sentiment:
Why should we allow students to participate in neighborhood group meetings? They don't own homes. Students come and go. They don't have a stake in the matter.  They aren't in their neighborhood for the long term.
I'm not quoting it exactly right, but that kind of sentiment is quite common in discussions about land use and urban policy. Neighborhoods and neighborhood groups are dominated by home owners. They feel that people that own homes should be the people who have a voice; renters are "transient," and don't "have a stake" in their neighborhoods. Homeowners, on the other hand, go to meetings, fill out surveys, and write their local politicians. Local democracy revolves around people with homes. I hear this a lot. It's a commonly held belief.

The problem is that this bias makes it even harder to create vibrant, flexible, and just cities. We need to make it easier for people in cities -- people who move around frequently -- to participate in our democracy. Throwing up hurdles based on residence will be yet another way we rig our political system in favor of suburbia.

It's already very difficult for people with rental housing to engage in politics. A vote for the ID amendment is a vote against cities, and an attempt to turn back our political clock to 1950s suburbia. We need to be more accommodating - not less - to those people living in cities, renting homes, moving around every year. Minnesota should not be a home ownership society. Our urban future will look very different.


CNN's 5 reasons why Minnesota is tops in voting include:
  1. Same-day voter registration laws
  2. Hearty, Midwestern civic culture
  3. They raise awareness about voting
  4. No voter ID laws
  5. A competitive, multi-party political scene


BURP #6 (Halloween Edition) This Tuesday at Clubhouse Jäger

[My halloween costume is a sidewalk closed sign.]
Greetings readers of this sidewalk blog (all six of you)!

If you've got nothing better to do this Tuesday than hanging around on the streetcorner violating the Minneapolis Lurking Ordinance, why not join me for a meeting of the Buffs of Urban and Regional Planning (BURP)? We'll chat about Halloween at the most appropriate place: Donnie Dirk's Zombie Den second most appropriate place: Clubhouse Jäger.

Who? You, me, others
What? BURP
When? This Tuesday, at 5:00 in the afternoon
Where? Donnie Dirk's Clubhouse Jäger, just north of Downtown
Why? Because it's there

If you haven't been, Donnie Dirk's Clubhouse Jäger is in one of the most interesting locations in all of Minneapolis. It's right along sort of near the river, smack dab in the kind of on the edge of the old light industrial section of North Minneapolis, just past downtown. It used to be that ALL of the Minneapolis riverfront resembled this section, filled with scrapyards, laced by railroads, and emitting surplus shoes.

Now, of course, the riverfront is a quiet, suburban community where you can walk your dog and almost never have to encounter another person. In fact, this bit of industrial landscape is all that's left, and is used mostly as a backdrop for riverfront patios. Come enjoy it, while preparing for the zombie apocalypse and discussing the future of Twin Cities urbanism.

Correction: Donnie Dirk's is closed on Tuesdays. Clubhouse Jäger is beautiful.

[What the neighborhood around Donnie Dirk's looked like c. 1938, before the freeway amputated it.]


Also, zombie den = timely politics...


Classic Sidewalks of the Silver Screen #89

Roger O. Thornhill / George Kaplan waits at the bus stop in the middle of nowhere...

... in Alfred Hitchcock's (1959) classic suspense North by Northwest.

Classic Sidewalks of the Silver Screen #88

Taggart and Rosewood enjoy a late supper, courtesy of Mr. Foley...

... in Martin Brest's (1984) amusing Beverly Hills Cop.


Today on Streets.mn: The First Rule of Urban Design is "Show, Don't Tell"

[Actually, no. A crosswalk is a crosswalk.]
I have a new post up on Street.mn today, about what I view as the limits to educational campaigns. The idea here is that, often engineers and planners rely too much on signage and legal changes (e.g. the 3' bike law) as opposed to actual infrastructural changes. There are obvious limits to this kind of approach to traffic design.

Here's the main point of my piece:
Real change is concrete change. For example, compare an educational campaign that says “every corner is a crosswalk (even ones without crosswalks)” to actually designing and paint decent crosswalks throughout the city. Compare hiring thousands of policemen to enforcing safe speed limits all through the city, to constructing “sleeping policemen” (what the British call speed bumps) that actually limit how fast people can drive, 24/7. Compare the erection of flashing speed limit signs to traffic calming. Compare a yellow ‘human being’ sign to a road diet, or narrower lanes, or bumpouts,
There’s no comparison. Actual concrete viscerally slows down traffic, no matter what the time of day. All of these things, real concrete changes, are effective no matter who is behind the wheel, or what they are thinking about, or what kind of person they are. All of these kinds of changes demand more from drivers, and say “pay attention” not with a sign, but with an demanding road environment.

I have this thought each time I see a bike route that relies only on a green sign, or a sharrow painted on the pavement. These kinds of design approaches pale in comparison to traffic calming, where you're actually narrowin the street, putting in a traffic circle, or installing speed bumps.

In writing, one of the oft-repeated rules is "show, don't tell." I think a similar ruel could exist for urban design. Instead of putting up a sign that says "watch for pedestrians" or "Speed Limit 30", you want to design a street that makes it obvious that pedestrians are all around, and that makes it highly uncomfortable to drive fast. You don't want to tell people to drive slowly and carefully, you want to make spaces where that is the obvious way to behave.

While there are some examples of useful educational campaigns, I fear that, for the most part, these are simply ways to keep graphic designers employed. Good street design should be self-evident.


Real World Urban Design Experiment #1: Franklin Avenue Road Diet

It’s notoriously difficult to do a proper “scientific” studies of cities. The main problem is that you can’t run controlled experiments on cities. Cities are too large, complex, and filled with persnickety humans. You don’t have a “control group,” you can’t run an experiment, and I guarantee you that the Institutional Review Board would never approve.

That’s why urban planning relies on models, hypothetical theory, and inductive reasoning. Pretty much the only thing that planners and civic engineers can reliably study are the movement of cars and the taxable value of real estate. (Data for anything else, such as people moving on foot, crime, or behavior change, is almost impossibly tricky.) That’s one of the reasons that car volumes and real estate values become the main emphases for city policy.

But have no fear. All that can change now, thanks to these easy to follow Real Life Planning Experiments. There are a few places in the Twin Cities where you can experience two sets of scenarios right here, on these very streets. These are places where you have a “control group” (Test Case #A) and an “experimental group” (Urban Street Subject 5.2-C5). These are places where the conditions are similar enough that you can come to some preliminary conclusions about different urban designs, different treatments, different planning approaches.

Following these easy steps, you can conduct your own Real World Analysis. Walk, bike, and drive through the city. Find out for yourself whether urban design really makes a difference. The world is your laboratory.

Experiment #1: Franklin Avenue Traffic Calming

Research Background: Franklin Avenue between Hiawatha (Highway 55) on the East and Interstate 35W on the west is one of the most diverse, long-struggling parts of South Minneapolis. Pushed up against three different freeways, it’s right in the old zone of density that used to surround the downtown. This part of the city was filled with old run-down apartments and single room occupancy hotels that were bulldozed during the 60s. Today, Franklin Avenue is one of the most diverse and interesting parts of Minneapolis. In some places, the street has been struggling to attract and retain businesses. Meanwhile, there are also many thriving restaurants and retail establishments all up and down this part of central Franklin Avenue.

[The control group sidewalks.]
Working Hypothesis: A 4 – 3 lane road diet (with bumpouts) makes streets more comfortable and more efficient for all users (but especially people on foot). These kinds of conversions are a win-win-win scenario, improving traffic flow and safety, dramatically improving the pedestrian environment, and catalyzing economic development along the street.

Control Group: The West side of Franklin Avenue (between 35W and Chicago Avenue) has four 12’ car lanes with narrow sidewalks (between 3' 6" and 5' wide).

Experimental Group: The East side of Franklin Avenue (between Chicago and Hiawatha Avenue) has two lanes plus a turn lane, with large sidewalk bumpouts.

Methodology: Take a walk down Franklin Avenue, from South 4th Street to Bloomington Avenue. What do you notice? How does the street change as you go from the West half to the Eastern half? What kind of differences do you notice? What kinds of changes in traffic behavior do you see? How does the street sound? How does the street feel as you walk? What kinds of businesses are nearby on each half of the street?

Repeat the process using an automobile. Repeat using a bicycle (at your own risk). 

Preliminary Findings: Please post these in the comments below.

[The control group is on the left; the experimental subject is on the right.]


*** Sidewalk Weekend ***

Sidewalk Rating: Semi-Quenching

If you stood in the middle of the street you would hear the unreal, thrumming silence of dusk in a dead-end place and you'd smell the rain that would creep in after darkness fell. If you stood still and listened hard you could probably hear the surf of truck traffic on the highway at the edge of town. And if you stood there long enough you might eventually see a child aboard a bicycle glide silently like a dream fragment through the intersection at the end of the block.

You might.

But you might not. There weren't a lot of children around anymore.

[Brad Zellar, fm your man for fun...]

[The view of the game from under the bleachers of St Paul's Dunning Field complex.]


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