Citiwire.net » The Fall and Rise of Great Public Spaces


Strøget, the main pedestrian street in Copenhagen. From kottke.org.

This post from Citiwire is an urban design power post—written by Jay Walljasper from the Project for Public Spaces and featuring Jan Gehl. Walljasper compares the activities along Strøget to the conventions happening in Tampa and Charlotte. While Copenhagen’s public and democratic life happens in its streets, ours happens in semi-private auditoriums. At one time, Copenhagen was on the same track as the US, giving space over to cars and watching its cities decline. They just decided to do something about it and created great public, pedestrian-oriented places. The US’ cities and particularly their public spaces have been in decline for years. Danes go to the pedestrian areas of Copenhagen to people watch, but there are few places in America with enough people to make that a worthwhile activity. Why would you drive to the mall to watch people walk? Why not just live in a nice place with a lot of people, where you can watch it from your front door, or participate by walking to a local park or market? Gehl lists some cities, including Portland, Oregon, that have put work into their public spaces and benefited from it. He says there are twelve things a city needs to have good public spaces:

  1. Protection from traffic
  2. Protection from crime
  3. Protection from the elements
  4. A place to walk
  5. A place to stop and stand
  6. A place to sit
  7. Things to see
  8. Opportunities for conversations
  9. Opportunities for play
  10. Human-scale
  11. Opportunities to enjoy good weather
  12. Aesthetic quality
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About Dave Munson
This blog is about architecture, cities, and myself.

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