The Granary District

Creating walkable, urban, human-centered neighborhoods in the Granary District.

I came across this video today, and was very inspired by it. After living in Washington, DC for the past three years, I take the urban setting for granted— the street vibrancy that outdoor cafés, street farmers markets, public plazas, etc. create. My wife and I lived in Dupont Circle, the heart of the city where we were two blocks from the Metro (subway), two blocks from the circle and steps to an endless amount of restaurants and shops.

It's a sort of tradeoff living in a dense city— a tradeoff that thousands of people just like us were making to live in downtown DC. We sacrificed space for the convenience of dense, urban living. We only had one car between us— my wife could walk to school and I could bike bike to work. Most of the other fellow tradeoffers probably didn't have a car. So anytime of day, whether walking or biking to work, school, the doctors office or dinner, there were always people out and about creating vibrant streetscapes which made walking and biking THAT much better.

(Dupont Circle, Washington, DC)

The automobile doesn't rule in these environments— the human does. And when the human rules, living is denser, more efficient places isn't burdensome and for the poor— it's much more convenient and for everyone and something that people in Salt Lake City are going to have to come to grips with in the future. Maybe not to the extent of density that Washington, DC is, but with the the population expected to double to 7 million people along the Wasatch Front by 2050, we're going to have to start gettin' denser. Because as much as we like to, we can't build further up the mountains, and we can't build into the Great Salt Lake, or even within hundreds of yards of it because of floodplains I assume, unless you're part of the team involved with the Northwest Quadrant— "and that's a different story altogether, I had to beat them to death with my own shoes." (Wayne's World II, anyone, anyone?)

So, this video really got me thinking because as I've been driving around lately, and from memories past, Salt Lake City in general has some of the most underutilized and forgotten urban settings I've seen anywhere and they're just oozing with potential for revitalization (The Granary District, The Granary District!!).

I want to try to make it a goal by summer's end to recreate the better blocks initiative for The Granary District. Art displays/ shows, food stands with outdoor seating, plantings on the sidewalk (if there even is a sidewalk), music performers and a makeshift promenade over the old railroad tracks. These are just some of the ideas we can start to think about, with endless more— (let's hear 'em!). And maybe we can start thinking about our own goals of this initiative— do we want the tracks out and replaced with an urban bike/ pedestrian trail? Do we want sidewalks put in? Do we want to showcase The Granary District as a whole and what it can become? What do you think?!

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