Can You Tell Me How to Get to … a Nice Downtown?

James Fallows’ article “Nice Downtowns: How Did They Get That Way?” in The Atlantic brings to mind Jim’s posts about ecosystem, specifically NYC’s Broadway and L.A.’s Theatre Row ecosystems. Fallows writes:

Pike Place market in Seattle, a core element of the city's successful downtown. Photo Credit: Wikimedia commons

Pike Place market in Seattle, a core element of the city’s successful downtown. Photo Credit: Wikimedia commons

“It’s tempting, if you haven’t seen the varied stages of this process, to imagine that some cities just ‘naturally’ have attractive and successful downtowns, and others just don’t happen to. … But in every city we’ve visited with a good downtown, we’ve heard accounts of the long, deliberate process that led to today’s result. The standard discussion will go: ‘See this restaurant [bar / theater / condo / Apple store with surrounding retail outlets]? Ten years ago, you wouldn’t have [dreamed of coming here at night / seen anyone but crack addicts / been able to rent a condo, or wanted to].'”

This “long, deliberate process” is what Jim refers to in his The Importance of Ecosystem post:

“[Ecosystems] can’t be improved by a single entity or with some governmental declaration. It just doesn’t work that way. It’s a complex set of connections and sense of shared interest, backed up by a long-term commitment that has at least a chance of making things like this change for the better. … Ecosystems are complex and made of many parts … ”

Though Jim writes about Broadway and L.A.’s Theatre Row, and Fallows references Seattle, Fresno and Shanghai, the lessons of building a healthy ecosystem for live entertainment to thrive in apply to all “nice downtowns.”

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