So, we've reviewed the two major planning paradigms this past week and we have traveled to Boston to see how those models manifest in the North End and the former West End. Now, it's time to tiptoe back to Worcester. Let's see how these two models compare right here at home. We're traveling down Highland Street towards downtown. Look at the two photos below and here is the question: Which photo represents "Robert Moses" urban renewal and which photo represents the "Jane Jacobs" ideal?
So, if you guessed the Sole Proprietor in the top photo as "Robert Moses", you would be correct. Across the street, the building that houses the framing and arts store, The Prints and the Potter, is Jane Jacobs personified. Let's look closely here to tell them apart.
Sole Proprietor, A Hint of Robert Moses
Ok, now before you think I'm hating on the good old Sole, let me tell you that I've had my fair share of yummy salmon in that building over the years. It's a special treat to dine there and we love it when Buster, the Crab comes back to town in the summer. So, please don't think Jane Jacobs in the Woo is picking on the Sole. We're "solely" looking at how buildings interface with the surrounding physical environment. How does a project enhance or detract from a thriving street life?
So, here's the thing about the Sole: This one restaurant has killed the density in this neighborhood! The one restaurant cum adjacent parking takes up practically one full city block. This is an example of a single use of a property. Only meals are served here. People aren't living here on this huge block. People have no other businesses or offices to go to on this block. It's only the Sole. That's it, folks. So, this block is only alive when the Sole is open. Otherwise, check out the empty parking lot around 10:45 on a Monday morning:
Jane Jacobs Still Alive on Highland
If you take a close look at the photo above of the Prints and the Potter building, you will see that the storefronts on the lower floor are topped by upper floors where people actually live and work. This model of storefronts at street level and housing above is typical mixed use that Jane Jacobs celebrated as a vital component of a thriving community.