Urban observations of Midwestern small towns

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St. Louis urban observer Steve Patterson has been traveling through Kansas and Missouri, visiting Garden City, Kansas, Hutchinson, Kansas, Wichita, Kansas, St. Joseph, Missouri, Shenandoah, Iowa, Salina, Kansas, and Lee's Summit, Grandview, and Blue Springs, Missouri.

Every entry has lots of photos (with links to more in his Flickr account) illustrating architecture, streetscaping, and urban planning, and each photo is accompanied with an observation about whether the subject of the photo is good or bad urban design and why. It's like a miniature course in city design.

There's a certain amount of sarcasm and cynicism, but Steve keeps it clean (unlike James Kunstler, whose sharp observations are seasoned heavily with four-letter words). There's a lot here in these entries about the latest city revitalization fad: streetscaping.

Many thanks to Steve for putting together such an informative series of entries.

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Paul Uttinger said:

Thank you for posting these links. I lived in Wichita in the 1960s and in Garden City in the late 1980s. In Garden City, my apartment was above a retail store on Main Street, about a block from the State Theatre and the Windsor Hotel. Depending on the traffic volume on Main, my travel time to work was about 30 seconds to 1 minute. It took me about a minute to walk to the grocery store and about the same amount of time to walk to the laundromat. It was possible to live there without a car (I walked and rode my bike all around central Garden City). Also, the town had unusually large Hispanic and Vietnamese communities (about 17% and 8% of the total population, respectively), and signage in three languages was common. Vietnamese was the primary or even the exclusive spoken language in some neighborhoods.

My apartment was on the second floor of a brick commercial building constructed (to the lot lines) in the 1880s. My block in downtown Garden City had a scale similar to Tulsa's own Main Street between Brady and Cameron or to the north side of Brady Street between Main and Boston. I must have lived the most urban existence possible in the midst of a small city in the midst of the extremely non-urban high plains of Kansas. Tulsa has many opportunities to create some areas with the density and scale of places such as downtown Garden City if the TMAPC would drop their pursuit of enormous setbacks and suburban zoning standards.

See-Dubya said:

I hadn't thought about James Kunstler in a while. I'd like to put him and Lileks in an octagon cage match and see them go at it. Kunstler could probably out-cuss him, but Lileks doesn't take himself quite as seriously and could probably out-snark him.

sbtulsa said:

As a child I was exposed to the real Miami, Ok. This was in the 50's and 60's. I moved back to oklahoma in 1973. As a child my fvorite time was walking from an aunt and uncle's house to main street and going to the movies (the Coleman theatre). The experiences were memorable because you saw everyone you knew on that street during daylight hours. it was positive socialization at its best. these small towns have dried up due in no small part to the baby boom generation's fixation with "cool" and "possessions" over roots and quality of daily life. maybe its a natural generational thing, but we've lost a lot of the old America simply because we wanted to be on our own and defined that as alone in a different city.

what a loss. as these towns dry up, we won't be able to easily rebuild them.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 17, 2007 7:03 PM.

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