EP 371 Downtowns and Public Spaces: What Works in Revitalizing Them?

Many of us can remember when downtown was the bustling hub of activity in our communities. As the song of the same name suggested ‘you could forget all your troubles, forget all your cares’. However, as highways cut through central business districts and people began to use their cars to shops at malls on the periphery of the city, the many great buildings and interesting spaces in downtowns began to fall away. In many places, for over 30 years or more, plans and visions have been put forward to revitalize these city centers. Some of succeeded; while many have failed. So what are the right ingredients to create this comeback? Andrew Manshel, author of ‘Learning From Bryant Park: Revitalizing Cities, Towns and Public Spaces’ share with us his firsthand knowledge on how it’s done. For a decade, he served as associate director and counsel to the Bryant Park Restoration Program in the heart of Manhattan. What he has to say about ideas that work transcends the unique geography of New York City and can be applied around the country, in places large and small. It’s often less about the design of a space, as opposed to the programming of it to meet our greatest needs–human contact and the pleasure of food. We talk about projects around the country focusing on ideas you can use in your own community to make that important place in your city’s center once again the place to be.