Sunday, December 28, 2008

Downtown: Surviors, Replacements, & the Ghost City

Since downtown is going to be in the news in 2009 a few posts on that place.

This neat aerial was from an old planning study, showing downtown as it was around 1950. You can mouse over and click on it to enlarge.

What lasted down to our era? The survivors are outlined in yellow.

Note that things were built since 1950 but were later torn down (Patterson School seen under construction here, and the Lazarus parking garages, for example). I don't show those, just the things that survived from 1950 (sometimes heavily altered).

Usually people black out what was torn down when showing these kinds of changes. Since so much was removed, I thought it better to black out the survivors. Whats remains visible in the pix is the ghost city, the city of memory for a certain generation of Daytonians.

Mapping out the survivors in a black plan. No block is intact, but the Arcade block & Merchants Row on E. Third appear as a fairly consistent pre-1950 streetscape. It's interesting that Main Street disappears here, indicating that building along this street was substantially replaced or removed after 1950

Next, what was built since 1950, and there was a alot. It might be interesting to do this as a time series to investigate building subsitution during the postwar era. And it was just replacing buildings; parking lots were replaced by buildings, too.

Mapping out the post 1950 building via a quasi black plan. Here parking structures are noted in blue. It would be interesting to map out the sum floorplate of these; there is a lot of parking here.
The big urban renewal efforts of Dave Hall Plaza/Midtown Mart and Courthouse Square are pretty visible, and 2nd Street from Jefferson to Wilkinson is almost all new (only the Hulman Buiding/Liberty Bank survives from 1950).

Putting it all together, its interesting seeing the pattern, with Main still being eroded by ill-concieved architectural and planning set-pieces, while Ludlow remains more "street-like".

Fourth and Ludlow, Ludlow & 2nd, and Main and First seems to be the most intact intersections with actual buildings on all four corners, without a parking lot or plaza
or setback on a fourth corner.

Finally, what went away. These buildings were removed since 1950, either for a new building or for parking.

As one can see downtown Dayton is fairly "new".

One thing to consider is open space and parking. Downtown Dayton always seemed so "open", and it might be interesting to investigate this a bit more using this aeriel, since just a cursory inspection reveals that this was the case even back then.

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