These are the downtown areas of major cities, including the core and surrounding districts. They contain a city’s most intense urban character and highest density.
- Buildings are large—four to 50 stories or taller—and set close together
- Shops and businesses often occupy the lower floors, with offices and residential units above
- Setbacks are zero to 10 feet
- Sidewalks are wide
- A large share of regional employment and cultural assets are located in these areas
- There are a variety of thoroughfares, including boulevards, main arteries and residential streets
- Parking is structured
- Transit service (buses, trains, taxis) is abundant
Jon Stewart discusses the importance of cities with Edward Glaeser in this clip from The Daily Show.
|"The dynamic growth and changes in cities and metropolitan areas require that their transportation systems be further developed and modified.
The types of transportation systems, in turn, influence the growth, characteristics, and environment of the cities and metropolitan areas. Thus, there is continuous interaction between the city, on one side, and its transportation system, which consists of the infrastructure and the operation of its different modes, on the other."
–Vukan Vuchic, Transportation for Livable Communities (Center for Urban Policy Research 1999)
- Minneapolis’ central area includes the downtown office and retail core, the Warehouse and North Loop districts, the East Hennepin and Mills districts, as well as Loring Park, Elliot Park and Cedar-Riverside
- Central St. Paul also qualifies with its tight core of office buildings and adjacent Lowertown, West Seventh and State Capitol districts
- Other central cities in Minnesota (or adjacent to it) include the downtown areas of Duluth, Rochester, St. Cloud, Fargo and Sioux Falls
TLS/KVA from MRDI on Vimeo.
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Challenges Facing Central Cities
- Creating lively, attractive and safe sidewalks and other public pedestrian spaces, especially where skyways are dominant
- Infilling (or disguising) surface parking lots
- Adding green space and managing storm water runoff
- Attracting residents and retaining retail stores
TIME: Intelligent Cities »
The Smarter City »
National Building Museum: The City »