May 20, 2015

Sign Language: Neighborhood Branding Is Serious Business

The Sign: "A great place to eat, to live, to recreate." That's how Councilman Ed Gonzalez described part of his district, the Near Northside, as the community unveiled its new logo.

The result of a $10,000 grant and a contest, Near Northside resident Jesus Prieto's design features a green foreground with silhouettes of a strolling family and a mariachi band on either side of a light-rail track cutting straight through the community. A business district with Mission Style facades and a row of single-family homes line the tracks with the downtown Houston skyline looming in the background - all inside a snow globe outline. The logo presents the Near Northside as a quaint enclave of community, connected to the big city by modern rail, the harbinger of change.


The Place: America's love for the neighborhood was perhaps most famously chronicled by the country's resident flaneur, Jane Jacobs. An advocate for the density and diversity of city life, she captured its poetry at the street level with observations of her own Greenwich Village neighborhood. Her "sidewalk ballet" was set against the large-scale urban projects of the '60s: In an era of expressways, she praised old-fashioned streets lined with storefronts.

Today, Jacobs is remembered by champions of New Urbanism, which emphasizes walkability, mixed-use developments, and multi-modal transportation networks. Programs like the various Great Streets initiatives across the country, the Vibrant Streets toolkit out of Washington, D.C., and Smart Growth America's National Complete Streets Coalition all champion similar principles.

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May 05, 2014

Streetsense’s Vibrant Streets Program Launches National Planning Toolkit For Retail Districts

New Toolkit Offers Government Agencies and Neighborhood Groups a Step-by-step Approach to Growing Strong Retail Corridors and Improving Commercial Districts.

By using the toolkit as a guide, neighborhoods can begin to understand how to create strong retail options, while fostering a vibrant place to visit, work, and live. - Heather Arnold, Streetsense

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Mar 06, 2014

Growing An Urban Neighborhood, One Store At A Time

Across the country, communities stranded in food and retail deserts are asking how they can enjoy the bounty afforded to other urban centers. One Washington, D.C., community thinks it might have an answer. Just a 10-minute drive south of the U.S. Capitol, across the Anacostia River, sits Congress Heights. The Southeast D.C. neighborhood is less than 2 miles long and home to more than 8,000 people, many in single-family houses. But if you’re looking for a sit-down meal, options are scarce.

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