We tend to define downtown visually by its buildings: Municipal Buildings, Courthouses, historic churches, tourist areas, skyscrapers, arenas and convention centers. But it is the transportation infrastructure—bodies of water, streets, railroads, interstate highways—that has shaped central cities for better and worse.
The core populations have swollen over the past decade with commuting workers. The public spaces, parks, streets, restaurants, and entertainment venues in the core are not just for downtown’s workers and residents, however, but function as resources for residents of the entire region.
Downtown Community Basic Characteristics:
- Multiple uses and functions—including commercial, office, retail and residential
- Extensive commercial and retail with large office buildings
- High-density development zoning.
- Significantly larger buildings, in terms of footprint, than those typically found in the surrounding community.
- Balance of automobile, pedestrian and bike-oriented infrastructure.
- Significant amounts of parking garages.
- Food access typically dominated by small market stores and sit down dining options
- Center point of major thoroughfares served by public transportation.
- Mix of pocket and large parks.
Focus Factors: Walkability, Open Space, Neighborhood Design
The design of Lower Broadway has slowly evolved to be more considerate of pedestrians. With the partnership of Gehl Studio, the design for a more permanent solution that considers three different conditions along Broadway that can accommodate movable seating, standing and performance zones.
More on the downtown transect: