On the Merits of Roundabouts

I grew up in Orange, California, a city that decided to forgo the traditional town square in favor of a circle. The Orange Circle is a two-lane roundabout surrounding a park and a fountain that was funded, I kid you not, back in 1886 through local bake sales. Every teenager in town learned to drive […]

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Transforming Vacant Lots into Public Spaces

One thing we heard loud and clear at our planning open house for The Loop was the desire for more public space. I heard Gertrude Stein paraphrased a number of times as people joked, “There is no there there.” Public spaces are taken for granted in a downtown area, where parks and squares are common threads in […]

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Street Fight

If you hear a voice that says that you can’t transform a street, by all means transform that street, and that voice will be silenced. — Janette Sadik-Khan (@JSadikKhan) February 28, 2017

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What Pokemon Go Can Tell Us About Our Cities

By now, we’ve all read the articles about the Pokemon Go phenomenon— it’s better than Fitbit at getting people moving, people’s legs hurt because they are walking so much, and everyone from retailers to Hillary Clinton is learning how to take advantage of the crowds of people out and about hunting Pokemon. If you’re one […]

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Public Space v. Online Space

It’s a common scene every time I stop by the local coffee shop for a mid-morning pick-me-up. The tables are full of people busily working their laptops, iPads and cell phones. (How does one, I wonder, get those types of jobs?) They’re definitely engaging in conversations, just not with the people immediately beside them. How did […]

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What makes a street pedestrian friendly?

Vox had a great photo essay on how people used streets at the turn of the last century. It was an interesting follow up to their article on the history of jaywalking and further illustrated how the public street is now seen as primarily a thoroughfare for car traffic. Before cars were so ubiquitous, “city streets […]

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Play Streets

On a recent post about restoring the downtown street grid, Matt Boehner, planner for our city’s Parks and Recreation Department, had a great comment about reclaiming streets. Without a doubt, the default use of streets has become cars and any other use is considered an exception to that rule. (In fact, Vox recently had a […]

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Thinking Ahead

When the University of Missouri installed new street signs emblazoned with the school mascot, my first thought was how long it would be until these signs were decorating dorm rooms. Sure enough, signs began disappearing almost immediately. In Columbia alone, $35,000 of signs are stolen every year, largely due to poorly chosen names street names such […]

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Arts Districts and the Power of Swerve

We walk through cities everyday but rarely do we ask how this messy mix of buildings, people and infrastructure came to be. Who planned this? Planning used to be fairly straight forward. It came from a man with a vision. A planner would look at a public space, decide the best use for it, and […]

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