Links from the 21st century — and the 19th

Three great links of interest that have absolutely nothing to do with each other:

  • Death by bad urban design: “When an area is designed with only car travel in mind, it puts the pedestrian at a severe disadvantage. Sometimes that disadvantage is fatal.”
  • MapMyRun.com: “Find your Address in the ‘BEGIN HERE’ box … then click on the map below to plot your walk.” A great tool for figuring out new ways to explore your neighborhood.
  • 1876 map of Fort Wayne: Extra cool map of 19th century Fort Wayne. Shows the old Wabash & Erie Canal and the old Allen County Fairgrounds (where Swinney Park is now).

Keller on the influences on Indiana youth

WORLD CITY-CENTERS ARE GROWING IN POWER AND CONNECTEDNESS
Globalization is making major world cities more powerful than ever. Why?

  • The mobility of capital means national governments are now virtually powerless to control the flow of money in and out of their own economies, thus greatly decreasing their influence in general. The cities are the seats of multi-national corporations and international economic, social, and technological networks. 2) The technology/ communication revolution means that national governments are powerless also to control what their people watch or learn. As a result, it is the culture/values set of world-class cities that is now being transmitted around the globe to every tongue, tribe, people, and nation. NY and LA are now far more influential in forming the culture of, say, teenagers in rural Indiana or rural Mexico than are the national or local governments or civic institutions. Sum: This is the first overall major erosion of nation-state power in 800 years.

Read the whole article here.

4 reasons to not bust a gaping hole into a historic theater

Embassy TheatreForget about building a downtown aquarium. Fort Wayne wants to build a suspended, over-the-street, glass-boxed, out-of-town-visitorium.

In an effort to prevent convention goers from ever having to walk on an actual sidewalk, the folks building Harrison Square downtown want to carve a hole into the west side of the historic Embassy Theatre (actually, that side of the building contains the old Indiana Hotel) and build a pedestrian walkway across a two-lane street.

In today’s News-Sentinel, columnist Kevin Leininger applauds the plan:

… the city is considering several incentives in exchange for the Embassy’s willingness to give up most of its third floor for a walkway that would allow visitors to travel indoors from the new hotel at Harrison Street and Jefferson Boulevard, across Harrison though the Indiana Hotel, to the Grand Wayne Convention Center — which is linked to the Embassy by another walkway over Jefferson.

Before we rent the reciprocating saws, let’s consider some possible drawbacks to busting a hole in the side of the Embassy:

  • You’d be busting a hole in the side of the Embassy. You can’t undo this kind of destruction. Will future generations wonder what kinds of dopes we were for saving such a beautiful structure from destruction, only to ram a makeshift shiv into its side? While we’re at it, should we build a walkway from the Lincoln Tower to the courthouse so the lawyers won’t get wet in the rain?
  • You wouldn’t really be helping visitors that much. As visitors walk over two-lane Harrison Street, they’ll be kicking themselves as they realize it would have been faster for them just to use the crosswalk.
  • You’d be using the proximity of the historic Embassy for your own downtown goals. The Embassy doesn’t get any real boost for becoming a conventioneers’ bypass — except for some cash, of course.
  • You’d be telling visitors that there’s nothing interesting about a Fort Wayne sidewalk. Aren’t there going to be shops along Jefferson Boulevard as a part of Harrison Square? Wouldn’t we like visitors to actually walk past them?

The pressure on the Embassy board is tremendous. Kevin again:

If (Embassy) board members zealously protect every last inch of the historic building’s interior and brick-and-terra cotta facade, they risk jeopardizing a project that could bring hundreds of thousands of people downtown every year — potentially benefiting both the theater and prospects for the Indiana Hotel’s redevelopment.

Putting the weight of Harrison Square on a walkway through a historic building is suspicious and unfair. People won’t come to Fort Wayne if they have to cross a street? Don’t people have to cross streets in other, more successful downtowns? Doesn’t the success of our own outdoor Jefferson Pointe prove that people enjoy walking and shopping outside?

Once the concrete cutters touch the side of the Embassy, we can never go back. We must consider some alternatives before we mar the face of downtown’s most precious jewel.

NOTE: Photo credit: The News-Sentinel, crudely Photoshopped by Jon. (Apologies for forgetting this before.)

What he sees is a city

On occasion, we’ll post a few good quotes from a few good books. Here’s one from a book that I see as foundational to the discussion of the good city:

(W)e of all people have a deep history of interest in the city, rooted in our biblical tradition. … When John (the evangelist), exiled on Patmos, is given a picture of our redeemed state, he does not see Eden restored in some kind of agrarian utopia; not does he see the American ideal of a single-family detached house surrounded by a huge yard for every inhabitant of the kingdom. What he sees is a city — New Jerusalem descending from heaven onto earth.

— from “Sidewalks in the Kingdom” by Eric O. Jacobsen