Wednesday, September 11, 2013

2 American Alleyways Repurposed as Narrow Streets

Tight streets (or "Really Narrow Streets" as Nathan Lewis calls them) are KEY in any successful urban area from the smallest village to a Tokyo-size megalopolis. I would say they are the most important part of what makes a great city (a city for people, not cars). Unfortunately, American cities have a noticeable lack of them outside of places founded in the colonial era like Boston and New Orleans. However, there are numerous examples of American cities sprucing up their alleyways, and the finished result is very similar to a Really Narrow Street. Here are two of those examples.

1. Will Dodge Way, Ashland, Oregon

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Will Dodge Way runs on the backside of the streetwall of buildings on East Main Street in Ashland. The width between each side of the alley (building-to-building) varies from ~15-25 feet.

2. Pedestrian Alley, Holland, Michigan (photo by me)

Google Earth says that this charming spot is called "Pedestrian Alley." Kind of generic, but it does a good job of describing what I would call a narrow street. The alleyway runs between two of Holland's major downtown streets, Central and River, and behind buildings facing the always-popular 8th Street. Several businesses have entrances opening onto the alley. Most of the actual pedestrian traffic sticks to the 8th Street-facing side, though. The width of the pictured section of the alley is about ~16 feet.

Now of course an alley like this is just a tiny pedestrian oasis in what is still a car-focused town... but I thought it would be cool to point out a couple of people-sized spaces that have been developed recently.

Related links:
Here's a Curbed article on a similar plan in a fashionable neighbourhood of San Francisco.

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