Listen to part of a lecture in a city planning class.
In the last 15 years or so, many American cities have had difficulties in maintaining a successful retail environment.
Business owners in the city centers or the downtown areas have experienced some financial losses, because of a steady movement of the people out of the cities and into the suburbs.
In general, downtown areas, just don't have that many residential areas, not that many people live there.
So what have city planners decided to do about it?
While, one way they've come up with the some ways to attract more people, to shop downtown was by creating pedestrian malls.
Now, what is a pedestrian mall?
It's a pretty simple concept really, it is essentially an outdoor shopping area designed just for people on foot.
And... well, unlike many other shopping malls that are built in suburb nowadays, these pedestrian malls are typically located in the downtown area of the city.
And...oh... there are features like white sidewalks, comfortable outdoor seating and maybe even fountains un... you know art.
There are variations on this model of course, but the common denominator is always the idea of creating a shopping space that will get people to shop in the city without needing their cars.
So I am sure you can see how having an area that's off-limits to automobile traffic would be ideal for heavily populated city where, well, the streets would otherwise be bustling with noisy, unpleasant traffic congestion.
Now the concept which originated in Europe was adopted by American city planners in the late 1950s.
And since then, a number of Unites States' cities have created the pedestrian malls.
And many of them have been highly successful.
So what have city planners learned about making these malls succeed?
Well, there are two critical factors to consider when creating a pedestrian mall: location and design.
both of which are equally important.
Now let's start with location.
In choosing a specific location for pedestrian mall, there are in fact two considerations.
Proximity to potential customers, um... that's we'd call a customer base, and accessibility to public transportation which we will get to in just a moment.
Now, for a customer base, the most obvious example would be a large office building since the employees could theoretically go shopping after work or during their lunch hour, right?
Another really good example is convention center which typically has a hotel and large meeting spaces to draw visitors to the city for major business conferences and events.
But ideally, the pedestrian malls would be used by local residents, not just people working in the city or visiting the area.
So that's where access to the public transportation comes in, either... either the designers plan to locate the mall near a central transportation hub, like bus terminal, a major train, subway station, or they work with city officials to create sufficient parking areas, not too far from the mall, which make sense because people can drive into the mall area ,well, then they need to have easy access to it.
OK, so that's location, but what about design?
Well, design doesn't necessarily include things like sculptures or decorative walkways or even eye catching window displays, you know art.
Although I'd be the first to admit those things are aesthetically appealing, however, visually pleasing sights, while they are not a part of pedestrian mall design that matter the most.
The key consideration is a compact and convenient layout.
One which allows pedestrians to walk from one end of the mall to the other in just a few minutes, so they can get to the major stores, restaurants and other central places without having to take more than one or two turns.
Now, this takes careful and creative planning.
But now what if one ingredient to this planning recipe is missing?
There could quite possibly be long-lasting effects.
And I think a good example is the pedestrian mall in the Louisville Kentucky for instance.
Now when the Louisville mall was built,oh, it had lots of visual appeal. It was attractively designed, right in the small part of downtown and it pretty much possessed all of the other design elements for success.
But now, here is my point about location comes into play.
There wasn't a convention center around to...to help draw in visitors and, well, the only nearby hotel eventually closed down for that same reason.
Well, you can imagine how this must have affected local and pedestrian mall business owners.
sort of what we call a chain reaction.
It wasn't until a convention center and a parking garage were built about decade later that mall started to be successful.