Urban Design Lessons from the State Up North
My wife, son, and I recently took a vacation to Michigan. We left from Chicago on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, turned the corner around Lake Michigan, and started heading north towards Mackinac Island. We stayed along the Lake Michigan coast for the most part, stopping in many little tourist towns along the way. I didn’t take pictures in all of them, but almost all were very charming, with what appear to be very healthy central business districts. I know the tourist money helps with the business aspect, but there were some trends and commonalities that I think are worth noting:
- Traffic moves slow in the downtown areas. There were very few multi-lane roads.
- There was lots of on-street parking. Angled parking was especially common. Drivers looking for parking is part of the reason traffic moves slowly.
- Street trees were usually abundant, large, and shady.
- Buildings on the main commercial streets were intact. There were solid street walls of buildings, not the gap-toothed building-parking lot-building-parking lot pattern.
- Parking was on-street or behind buildings in public lots.
- There was good signage directing people to main attractions and maps of the business district in many towns.
Here are some photos: