City districts that invite you to leave your car behind and explore bars, restaurants, shops and parks by strolling slowly on foot tend to be places we remember most.
Northeast Ohio has a number of these places: Shaker Square, Market Square (in Ohio City), Professor Avenue in Tremont, Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights and Waterloo in North Collinwood are just a few examples. Most are well served by public transit and were planned in the early 20th century when pedestrians, cyclists and trains shared more in the public right-of-way with cars.
Buildings tend to be closer to each other and to the street, with parking lots in the rear and an eclectic mix of independently owned and (increasingly) chain operations on the ground floor.
Urban districts generate an excitement that comes from closer human interaction. They are mixed-use which means residential dwellers or daytime workers are located above the ground floor retail, adding a built-in market of shoppers who don't need to hop in their car for their basic amenities.
When walking is built into day-to-day life, it can even reduce obesity.
Add park benches, plants and comfortable, well-tended public spaces and you have a recipe for great urban places.
The words urban and village are filled with opposing emotions, reflecting our feelings about each environment. People want to feel both sensations. We want to live in a city which is intimate enough so that our face is well known...but we also want privacy. We want familiarity and anonymity.
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