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-   -   Phoenix 101: What killed downtown (http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=239762)

LA21st Aug 2, 2019 8:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Obadno (Post 8648217)
No because you came here to disprove a point that nobody made.

Because Dallas was somehow lumped with LA in this discussion when the stats prove it had more in common with Phoenix than the latter in that time period. It would've made more sense to say Dallas and Houston, if anything.

pj3000 Aug 2, 2019 8:18 PM

^^ yeah, exactly. No one is trying to slight LA here. Nor anywhere else.

I think Phoenix is an interesting case when looking at American cities that have become very large in the past 50 years or so.

pj3000 Aug 2, 2019 8:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Obadno (Post 8648221)
No because relative to their own sizes they are still very small downtown's.

Relative to their own sizes, they have small downtown cores. That's correct.

But they are still orders of magnitude (literally) larger than Phoenix's. For the very reasons, both you and I have stated.

Obadno Aug 2, 2019 8:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pj3000 (Post 8648226)
Relative to their own sizes, they have small downtown cores. That's correct.

But they are still orders of magnitude (literally) larger than Phoenix's. For the very reasons, both you and I have stated.

Yes and they are undersized relative to their metro pops for the same reason all cities post ww2 are, including Phoenix, including many in the south.

Phoenix is particularly notable as it is the only MAJOR metro that was built nearly entirely in the car oriented era.

JAYNYC Aug 2, 2019 9:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crawford (Post 8647699)
Skyline has nothing to do with anything. The fact is that Dallas has a tiny core for a metro of 8 million, and LA has a tiny core for a metro of 18-19 million. These are huge metros with relatively unimportant cores.

There are 9 MSAs in the US with a population north of 5 million. Of those, only 3 (Dallas, Houston and Atlanta) are positioned inland, away from built up, congested coastal areas or otherwise directly boxed in from the north, south, east or west by another major metro.

That said, how big do you realistically expect the core of a city in the middle of Texas or Georgia (or Arizona, Kansas, Montana, etc.) to be when they have endless room to grow? People have many different lifestyle preferences, and not everyone desires to build, live in or spend their recreational time in a large, bustling urban core like those in NYC, Philadelphia, etc. Again - Dallas is in TEXAS. The metro area is capable of extending west to Abilene (181 miles), south to Waco (95 miles), east to Longview (130 miles) and north to Oklahoma (100 miles).

Do you honestly expect a major sunbelt city and international transportation hub that is constantly experiencing rapid explosive growth to be focused on building out a large core, the likes of cities in tightly-packed coastal cities? I mean I get that this is the internet, but you might want to come back down to reality.

10023 Aug 2, 2019 9:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JManc (Post 8647947)
They don't otherwise we would not be having this discussion. Phoenix started out briefly with traditional growth expanding from downtown outward but early on its history (the 50's), cars, freeways, and suburbia happened which changed the fabric of cities everywhere. LA and Dallas were already big to have grown largish urban centers, Phoenix was not even a blip on anyone's radar but even their development decentralized which is why their cores are pretty small given their massive populations...as Crawford mentioned above.

My point is that the title of this thread is non-sensical.

Nothing “killed” downtown Phoenix. It just never had one to begin with.

cabasse Aug 2, 2019 10:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LA21st (Post 8648211)
Because I pointed out a fact instead of something you wanted it to be? Is 500,000 not closer to a million than one one million is to 5 million?


each one is a similar magnitude of order larger than the previous, even if dallas is not directly in the middle.

The North One Aug 2, 2019 10:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 10023 (Post 8648331)

Nothing “killed” downtown Phoenix. It just never had one to begin with.

Yes it did as clearly shown by the photos in the OP.

Obadno Aug 2, 2019 10:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The North One (Post 8648373)
Yes it did as clearly shown by the photos in the OP.

Most of the buildings in those photos are still downtown and occupied, People are looking back on pre ww2 Phoenix with rose-colored glasses.

It was a couple of blocks of a busy town center. Calling it a "bustling" downtown is just a-historical.

You could argue that it lost its retail traffic as many main streets did but it never lost employment or tore down office buildings or apartment blocks. Most of our "urban renewal" was the tear down of single family homes outside of the "downtown" What was once some single or two story retail buildings were replaced with modern office towers.

The pictures on the last page show the absolute extent of the pre ww2 city and it wasn't much at all, as you would expect for a small agricultural based city.

PHX31 Aug 3, 2019 12:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Obadno (Post 8648387)
Most of the buildings in those photos are still downtown and occupied, People are looking back on pre ww2 Phoenix with rose-colored glasses.

It was a couple of blocks of a busy town center. Calling it a "bustling" downtown is just a-historical.

You could argue that it lost its retail traffic as many main streets did but it never lost employment or tore down office buildings or apartment blocks. Most of our "urban renewal" was the tear down of single family homes outside of the "downtown" What was once some single or two story retail buildings were replaced with modern office towers.

The pictures on the last page show the absolute extent of the pre ww2 city and it wasn't much at all, as you would expect for a small agricultural based city.

Im not sure what you're talking about. Just pull up the 1949 aerials on the Maricopa county website and see. You either have zero clue, or are exaggerating on purpose. There were plenty more than just the "couple of blocks" as shown the picture you posted. There was a whole warehouse district near the tracks, streetcars, a historic Chinatown, blocks of typical lowrise businesses/offices/retail, in addition to the larger department stores, theaters, and taller historic office buildings. You know, a typical pre-war downtown for a smaller city.

Obadno Aug 3, 2019 3:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PHX31 (Post 8648478)
Im not sure what you're talking about. Just pull up the 1949 aerials on the Maricopa county website and see. You either have zero clue, or are exaggerating on purpose. There were plenty more than just the "couple of blocks" as shown the picture you posted. There was a whole warehouse district near the tracks, streetcars, a historic Chinatown, blocks of typical lowrise businesses/offices/retail, in addition to the larger department stores, theaters, and taller historic office buildings. You know, a typical pre-war downtown for a smaller city.

We have had this conversation multiple times, if you want to claim a couple of blocks was some amazing downtown scene go ahead but its simply an exaggeration of what really existed.

PHX31 Aug 3, 2019 3:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Obadno (Post 8648556)
We have had this conversation multiple times, if you want to claim a couple of blocks was some amazing downtown scene go ahead but its simply an exaggeration of what really existed.

Some people have different numerical definitions of "a couple", yours must mean 50 because that was the reality.

I'm not claiming it was "amazing", just that it was typical pre-war small-u.s.-city-esque.

Buckeye Native 001 Aug 3, 2019 7:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PHX31 (Post 8648568)
I'm not claiming it was "amazing", just that it was typical pre-war small-u.s.-city-esque.

I don't understand why that's so hard to understand?

God knows I've been critical of Phoenix in the past, but living outside it's sphere of influence (although there's hardly anywhere in the northern or western parts of the state that isn't influenced by Phoenix in some way, at least based on my experiences), I've had to learn and appreciate how much it drives economic activity throughout the rest of the state. Without Phoenix, for better or for worse, there is no Arizona.

badrunner Aug 3, 2019 8:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LA21st (Post 8648222)
Because Dallas was somehow lumped with LA in this discussion when the stats prove it had more in common with Phoenix than the latter in that time period. It would've made more sense to say Dallas and Houston, if anything.

Actually, in terms of postwar development patterns, I would say that Riverside MSA is a better comparison. It's almost a perfect match.

Historical population - Phoenix MSA/Riverside MSA
  • 1950 - 374,961/451,688
  • 1960 - 726,183/809,782
  • 1970 - 1,039,807/1,143,146
  • 1980 - 1,599,970/1,558,182
  • 1990 - 2,238,480/2,588,793
  • 2000 - 3,251,876/3,254,821
  • 2010 - 4,192,887/4,224,851

austlar1 Aug 3, 2019 8:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pj3000 (Post 8648213)
And again, right. Simply cannot put Phoenix in the same category as LA and/or Dallas. They were bigger cities that had already developed more significant downtown cores... and they continued to develop those cores to a MUCH greater extent than Phoenix ever did, even with the advent of suburban sprawl to draw development away from those downtown cores.



Yes they did. Reducing the impact of the development of their cores by saying that "they got some high rise offices as everywhere did" obscures reality. It's not just that they more to begin with.

LA and Dallas (and Houston, Atlanta, and other sunbelt cities) were much more important cities than Phoenix was... and that's why Dallas was able to build 17 500+ foot towers between 1960 and 1990... and why LA built 18 of them... and why Houston built 27 of them... and why Phoenix built 0 of them.

Tall buildings are certainly not everything when it comes to a vibrant, large downtown core. But when you consider the tens of thousands of people that work and live in those large buildings in each city on a daily basis, it significantly expands the downtown area. There is no getting around that.

What I have been saying from the beginning... to claim that downtown Phoenix never developed because of the age of sprawl like downtown LA and Dallas didn't develop because of sprawl is just not accurate.

And by saying accurate things like, Phoenix was a much smaller city than the others before sprawl happened and how those other were more important commercial centers, you're disproving your original claim.

Phoenix is younger, so it never had the same chance to develop its core before suburban sprawl became the dominant development pattern; and Phoenix has never been important enough of a commercial center to develop a dense downtown core (of which, yes, tall buildings with high intensity of use, are a very significant part). It's not specifically because of sprawl... those other cities majorly developed their downtowns in the age of sprawl.

"why did downtown never develop to begin with?"

"And the answer to that is the same for LA, Dallas, or any other large sunbelt city Sprawl was the order of the day."


So the question above isn't relevant to LA or Dallas... because as we've all said, their downtowns were developed (in comparison to Phoenix's).

And the answer isn't relevant to LA or Dallas either... because as we've now agreed on, LA and Dallas were more important cities, and the downtowns of LA, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta boomed with big time skyscraper construction in the age of suburban sprawl to ALL leap into the top 6 highest skylines in the nation because of that importance. The demand to develop like this in Phoenix was obviously not there at the time.

I think we just need to acknowledge that Phoenix is a sharp outlier in the sunbelt when it comes to this specific topic.

In fairness, it should be noted that while Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and LA all developed giant skylines during the post ww2 era, especially from the 1960s onward, all of those cities experienced a significant decline overall in their central business districts. Office employment grew, but shopping, entertainment and other related business activity slowly disappeared from downtown in all of those cities, and in reality the revival of those activities has been slow to happen even today. The famous parking lot photo of downtown Houston circa 1985 or so, illustrates that point rather well. The only reason any of these sunbelt downtowns might be considered healthy today is due in large part to the development of large scale residential projects and significant convention/sports/entertainment components. The same thing happened in much-smaller downtown Phoenix and revival of downtown Phoenix is proceeding today on the same basis.

mhays Aug 3, 2019 9:53 PM

They're all still heavily office-slanted, plus a big dose of conventions. They're not rounded downtowns.

Their residential components are pretty minimal. For a big-city downtown, residential density should average multiple tens of thousands per square mile.

SunDevil Aug 3, 2019 9:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 10023 (Post 8647733)
I think everyone understands the reasons why. That doesn’t change the reality.

True, but the current reality isn't because Phoenix's downtown died. It's just that it had a downtown the size of, like, Fargo or maybe Duluth by the time sprawl and auto-centric development took over completely.

JAYNYC Aug 4, 2019 2:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mhays (Post 8648903)
They're all still heavily office-slanted, plus a big dose of conventions. They're not rounded downtowns.

Their residential components are pretty minimal. For a big-city downtown, residential density should average multiple tens of thousands per square mile.

Out of curiosity, how do those cities rank in terms of downtown occupancy today?

Too lazy to look the figures up, but assuming:

1. L.A.
2. Houston (would midtown be included?)
3. Atlanta (would midtown be included?)
4. Dallas (would uptown be included?)

mhays Aug 4, 2019 4:38 AM

You can look things up by census tract. But D/H/A would have pretty low numbers in the 2018 estimates, higher than 2010 but still very low. LA would be higher but still not that high (in contrast to Koreatown etc.).

Someone could do an exercise of how many tracts they can stitch together including their downtowns with at least a decent average density, but the numbers will be pretty low.

JManc Aug 4, 2019 5:02 AM

You don't have to look up Houston's numbers to see that the downtown residential population is still fairly low. There are more homeless and vagrants shuffling around than anyone else after business hours and nightlife is pretty dead unless there's an event or game. There are several towers recently completed with more going up and businesses to cater to them but we are at least a decade away from a respectable downtown population.


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