SGA Asks: What makes your neighborhood great?

Earlier this week Smart Growth America asked our readers: What makes your neighborhood great? We’re excited to share your responses.

We’ll be asking a new question next week – follow us on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook to join the discussion!

Here are some responses from Facebook:

And here are some responses from Twitter:

A few people even wrote longer responses in the form of blog posts. All Over Albany, written by an urban planner in Albany, NY, talks here about how the neighborhood he grew up in shaped his childhood:

The good memories of childhood (including sunny summer days playing football; late fall nights playing street hockey; making race car tracks in the yard for matchbox cars; riding bikes; and general mischief) are the memories that resonate.

I didn’t realize until years later that the layout and landscape of the neighborhood I grew up in played a strong role in shaping my values — and my career… I lived on Cardinal Avenue my entire childhood and it was paradise. My neighborhood was safe. We knew our neighbors. All the kids played together. There was a level of diversity I did not see in the suburban schools I attended. Everyone had a similarly sized house and lot – and all were unique… I believe that the traditional design of my neighborhood played a strong role in my love for cities because it inspired a strong sense of place in me. How could anyone care about a place they don’t find unique, special, or interesting? I believe there is a strong correlation between great places and happy, interesting people.

Hygge Studio, who blogs about environmental psychology, urban design and social media from San Francisco, talks about her neighborhood:

This stretch of Taylor Street is essentially what I consider to my neighborhood within the city.

Walking along this stretch of Taylor Street is quite enjoyable. The street is tree-lined on both sides and there is a sidewalk on both sides of the street. There are many different things to observe while walking: different building types (from a variety of building styles to Grace Cathedral), and many people out walking.

The street is wide enough to allow sunlight in, but not so wide that it becomes negative space. This physical layout allows for the street to feel enclosed, but not stifling. The mixed-use aspect also provides interest—there are cafes, restaurants, laundromats and dry cleaners, a corner market, a park and a large cathedral…all within these four blocks.

The variety of people passing by makes this a very enjoyable experience. There are people of all ages using the sidewalks, and many people walking their dogs. People are usually friendly on the street, and I think that might be because the sidewalks seem to be mainly used by local residents who share a sense of community on the street.

The shops, cafes and restaurants on the street all have very large windows, allowing you to see the activity inside. The cafes and restaurants have tables outside, as well as signs describing specials on the sidewalk, and are usually busy, all of which are very inviting. The corner market displays flowers out on the sidewalk, and has a wide corner entrance that is always open to the street.

All of these various elements, important in their own right, work together to accomplish what I believe is the mark of a successful neighborhood: that it becomes an extension of the home.

Have a suggestion for a question to ask? Email info [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.