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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Eyes on the Sidewalk or In Defense of the Corner Bar






A measure of safety is obtained with sidewalks.  Not only the physical safety provided by buffering from the road but psychological safety if the sidewalk is well used. 





'Eyes' on the sidewalk are important.  

'The bedrock attribute of a successful city district is that a person must feel safe and secure on the street among all these strangers'. To this end, what if Nashville had neighborhoods designated as Walking Districts?  I can't say I can find much precedence for this idea.  What I like about it is that it would establish certain neighborhoods on a map as rich and interesting to walk.  It would also alert drivers to anticipate walkers therefore increasing pedestrian safety.  

' A well used city street is apt to be a safe street'.  Clearly, in order to be well used there must be a significant level of amusement and density.  There must be places to go!  'The basic requisite for such surveillance is a substantial quantity of stores and other public places sprinkled along the sidewalks of a district'. This is an argument for corner bars and restaurants mixed in neighborhoods.  It also is an explanation for why Bedford Av, in Nashville, feels currently like a failed development despite its prettiness.  






'There must be eyes upon the street, eyes belonging to those we might call the natural proprietors of the street'.  

'The sidewalk must have users on it fairly continuously, both to add to the number of effective eyes on the street and to induce the people in buildings along the street to watch the sidewalks in sufficient numbers'.  It needs to be rich not bland and affected by the 'Great Blight of Dullness'.








'Nobody enjoys sitting on the stoop or looking out a window at an empty street'.  At least, not for long.  'Large numbers of people entertain themselves, off and on, by watching street activity'. 







'The sight of people attracts still other people'.



Sources:  The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs, 1961




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