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Mystery Street of the Day

A STREET seen in Downton Abbey last night (in America), is a CGI creation. It’s a beautiful street, so I’m curious as to what’s real and what’s new. (PS: Answers below.)

The way that the arcaded building bumps out at the top of the hill (on a square?) is quite beautiful—click on the image and zoom in and you’ll see steps going up to the arcade. Also beautiful are the stone sidewalks and street with the stone and red-brick buildings (a change from the red-brick and tinted stamped concrete ‘bricks” that so many American cities default to when they want “streetscape”).

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Before & After: Jaywalking, Jaydriving & Jayliving

These two videos are a fascinating study in the evolution of King Car in New York City. Although the second video is joking, it shows how much control of the street had shifted from the pedestrian to the car by 1928. The first movie, shot from a New York cable car rolling down Broadway about 20 years earlier, shows how comfortably pedestrians crossed the street whenever and wherever they wanted. Organized Motodrdom hadn’t yet brought us jaywalking and Transportation Corridors.

Other links:

Tom Vanderbilt, When Pedestrians Get Mixed Signals, New York Times OpEd

Vision Zero is America’s Most Walkable City, Street Design blog

Singelgracht, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

WHEN MY WIFE AND I ARRIVED at our apartment on the Singelgracht a few hours before Victor, I thought we had found an urban paradise. Victor took the cover photo just in front of the building. In the book I wrote, “Solid seventeenth- and eighteenth-century brick houses line both sides of the canal there, most of them in a local Classical vernacular with simple trim and harmonious proportions that relate to the Classical music Amsterdammers love: 1 to 2, 2 to 3, 3 to 4, and so on. The houses are mainly red brick, but some have light-colored brick and some have very dark brick. Most are three bays wide (three windows across), but there are also two-bay houses, and some are four or five bays wide. With the exception of the wonderful shop windows, all the windows are vertical and come from just a few ‘families’ of windows. The window trim and the rest of the trim and moldings are usually, but not always, light stone or wood painted white. All in all, the houses produce a wonderful combination of the order and variety that good urbanism requires.” (page 212)

BTW, I’ve discovered that when you travel with Victor, you get perfect, glorious weather.

The view below is looking south along the Singel canal, towards Huidenstraat and the bridge to the Spui. The Google street view is here.