Beside the Alamo, enchantment

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My most recent Urban Tulsa Weekly column is about the correlation between urban vitality and the combination of good urban form and older buildings, factors that are actively protected in cities like Austin and San Antonio, cities that Tulsans frequently say they wish to emulate. Those factors seem to make the difference between a lively riverfront, like San Antonio's, and a commercially inactive riverfront like Austin's.

As I mentioned in the column, I visited Austin and San Antonio recently. You can find the photos I took in downtown San Antonio on Flickr. I've geocoded each picture and explained what I found interesting, particularly from an urban design perspective.

Here are some links where you can learn more about San Antonio and Austin's zoning and land use policies:

Twelve years ago, on a week-long business trip to Silicon Valley, I came up with the idea of doing a column for UTW that I would have called "Urban Elsewhere," describing the good and bad examples of urban design that I came across in my travels, describing vibrant districts and trying to explain why they work and how we might apply those examples to Tulsa. It took a few years, but through this blog and my column in UTW I've been able to do that from time to time, which gives me a lot of satisfaction. Perhaps some day our city leaders will draw lessons from other cities that don't involve massive tax increases for major public projects.

By the way, the Austin electronics store I mention at the beginning of the column is a branch of a store I first came across during that trip to Silicon Valley -- Fry's Electronics. It's Nerdvana -- like a Best Buy + CompUSA + Radio Shack on steroids. It's Bass Pro Shops for technogeeks. Every part or gadget you could imagine, you can find it at Fry's. Having a Fry's, or something like it, in Tulsa would do more than acorn lamps along the river to convince tech-heads that they want to live and work here.

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2 Comments

See-Dubya said:

You think you want a Fry's, but you don't. Busted stock, rude and incompetent sales help, byzantine return policies...they are legend in California. Not a good legend.

It was funny, though...if you want to see some nice cars in Northern California, you can go into the Fry's stores in Silicon Valley. Lotuses, Ferraris, Vipers...tech moguls in the toy store.

Jeff Shaw Author Profile Page said:

There is a lot of great content in these articles. What would be great is if "Tulsa" could take some of these things that work and come up with something original. Our American cities have become so homogonized. River development, Arenas, Malls, Zoning, Big Box. No city different from the next really; the only thing different is scale.

Oh, without tax increases of course.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 7, 2008 10:59 PM.

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