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  #61  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2019, 11:29 PM
edale edale is online now
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Originally Posted by Quixote View Post
Agreed. This is why I think the whole “you can live well without a car in the ‘Big Six’ cities” is highly overrated. The reality is that all of those cities (minus NYC, which is always the outlier in urban discussions) are very limited in terms of neighborhoods* that are anchored by a commercial strip with quality amenities. What’s the point of living in a dense environment if all of the amenities within walking distance (if there are any) are shit quality and you have to trek over to nearby neighborhoods to do all your errands? Me personally, any urban neighborhood I live in absolutely must have the following within walking distance:

1) Chase
2) USPS
3) UPS
4) FedEx
5) Multiple coffee shop options
6) Multiple grocery options
7) Multiple laundromat options
8) Multiple convenience store options
9) Quality, non-chain dining options


*My standard is 5th/7th Avenues in Brooklyn’s Park Slope. Commercials strips in other cities tend to be too short or too spotty.
Where do you live in LA that has all of those things within walking distance? I live in Los Feliz, one of the more walkable neighborhoods in LA, and it wouldn't pass this test. I have plenty of coffee shops, a regular grocery store, liquor store, natural food store, several good food options, and am generally happy with my walkable options. The thing I've noticed with LA, and maybe this is true of many places, is that we have a ton of single use zoning all throughout the city, so unless you live near (like a block or 2) from a commercial corridor, you're not going to have much to walk to. I'm fortunate to live a block off a commercial street, but if I lived even just a couple more blocks away, walkability would drop. In my neighborhood, there are 2 main commercial streets: Hillhurst and Vermont (and that little stretch of Hollywood Blvd that connects the two). Unless you're fortunate to live between the two streets, you basically have one available as your 'walking' neighborhood center. I'm a solid 20 minute walk to the Vermont business district, which works for walking to restaurants, the movie theater, book store, etc. but wouldn't be practical for grocery shopping, doing laundry at the mat, or most errands. Outside of downtown and K-Town, I can't think of many areas of LA that would be much different than my experience. Also, our block sizes are large and there are a ton of curb cuts on our commercial streets, so it is more unpleasant to walk along them than in cities like SF, NYC, Chicago, etc. that have zero setbacks, smaller blocks, and few curb cuts.
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  #62  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2019, 11:32 PM
Buckeye Native 001 Buckeye Native 001 is online now
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
just speaking for myself, the convenience of owning a car has been VERY nice now that i have two little screaming drunken midgets that follow me around everywhere i go.
I'm against childhood alcoholism, but at least you're their DD
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  #63  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2019, 11:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
the whole "car-free" thing on this forum has a whole lot of stupid myths built up around it. if you're childless*, and know how to ride a bike, there are lots of US cities where one could conceivably arrange their life to live an easy and convenient car-free lifestyle.

(*) now that i'm on the other side of the parenthood equation, having a car does make life a million times easier at times.
At 73, I don't depend on a bike for transportation but with Uber/Lyft less than 5 minutes away pretty much anytime and Zipcars in my condo's garage should I need my own vehicle (maybe to lug home something really bulky), I haven't felt the need for my own car in SF. But now they've put in a rental bike rack (Ford GoBike) across the street and maybe I will try that for short, FLAT, trips.
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  #64  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2019, 11:41 PM
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Originally Posted by edale View Post
Where do you live in LA that has all of those things within walking distance? I live in Los Feliz, one of the more walkable neighborhoods in LA, and it wouldn't pass this test. I have plenty of coffee shops, a regular grocery store, liquor store, natural food store, several good food options, and am generally happy with my walkable options. The thing I've noticed with LA, and maybe this is true of many places, is that we have a ton of single use zoning all throughout the city, so unless you live near (like a block or 2) from a commercial corridor, you're not going to have much to walk to. I'm fortunate to live a block off a commercial street, but if I lived even just a couple more blocks away, walkability would drop. In my neighborhood, there are 2 main commercial streets: Hillhurst and Vermont (and that little stretch of Hollywood Blvd that connects the two). Unless you're fortunate to live between the two streets, you basically have one available as your 'walking' neighborhood center. I'm a solid 20 minute walk to the Vermont business district, which works for walking to restaurants, the movie theater, book store, etc. but wouldn't be practical for grocery shopping, doing laundry at the mat, or most errands. Outside of downtown and K-Town, I can't think of many areas of LA that would be much different than my experience. Also, our block sizes are large and there are a ton of curb cuts on our commercial streets, so it is more unpleasant to walk along them than in cities like SF, NYC, Chicago, etc. that have zero setbacks, smaller blocks, and few curb cuts.
There's alot more areas like that in LA. Westwood, Fairfax, Westwood Village, Hollywood, Echo Park etc. West Hollywood (which is really like 4-5 walkable areas), Beverly Grove.., Santa Monica/Venice etc...

And K-Town and Hollywood are HUGE city neighborhoods, that really should be split up when talking about them, imo.
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  #65  
Old Posted Jan 10, 2019, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Quixote View Post
Agreed. This is why I think the whole “you can live well without a car in the ‘Big Six’ cities” is highly overrated. The reality is that all of those cities (minus NYC, which is always the outlier in urban discussions) are very limited in terms of neighborhoods* that are anchored by a commercial strip with quality amenities. What’s the point of living in a dense environment if all of the amenities within walking distance (if there are any) are shit quality and you have to trek over to nearby neighborhoods to do all your errands? Me personally, any urban neighborhood I live in absolutely must have the following within walking distance . . . .My standard is 5th/7th Avenues in Brooklyn’s Park Slope. Commercials strips in other cities tend to be too short or too spotty.
Where I live in San Francisco:
1) Chase - Within 2 blocks got Bank of America, Chase and US Bank
2) USPS - 2 blocks
3) UPS - Ground floor of my building
4) FedEx - Ground floor of my building
5) Multiple coffee shop options - 4 I can think of within 2 blocks including one on the ground floor of my building
6) Multiple grocery options - Depends on how much you like to walk, but for me it's maybe 2 (a marathon walker would call it 4)
7) Multiple laundromat options - several but we have laundry rooms in the building on each floor and I have my own hookup so haven't explored it
8) Multiple convenience store options - uncountable (maybe 15 or 20?)
9) Quality, non-chain dining options - There are essentially no chain restaurants in most of SF except a limited number of fast food joints. The number of places within 5 or 6 blocks of me is also uncountable and range from $200+/person down to $5 diner type food.

Also within a couple of blocks, I have the city's main public library, one major art museum, arguably (I won't argue it here) the country's second best opera and among its best symphonies and ballet companies (inclduing 4 major performance venues).

Our official walk score is 96.

I just think you aren't very familiar with some cities other than New York.
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  #66  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2019, 12:49 AM
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https://www.google.com/maps/@34.0565...=en&authuser=0


The bizarre Alvarado Street in Westlake.

I used to live in this part of Koreatown. It always felt there were a gazillion places/business nearby. More cluttered in real life than in this photo. There's some big mixed use complexes now u/c and proposed, so this area will change quite a bit.

https://www.google.com/maps/@34.0552...7i16384!8i8192
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  #67  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2019, 12:57 AM
jtown,man jtown,man is offline
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Yeah, according to my city's downtown booster group, or whatever it is, we have in downtown Norfolk:

112 places to eat...ranging from a BK in the mall to some really nice places down our 'main drag'

28 places to get a drink

10 churches

10 banks

Post office

About 130 stores

All within 10 minutes from the center of downtown. I would be car-free if it weren't for grocery shopping, lack of public transport, and the fact that I don't know where I am moving next. However, besides bad weather days and buying groceries, I have been riding my electric bike around town.
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  #68  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2019, 2:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Pedestrian View Post
Where I live in San Francisco:
I didn't say amenities-rich neighborhoods don't exist in SF or other cities not named NYC. It sounds to me that the neighborhood you just described is likely east of Divisadero and north of Market. If so, great, but the majority of San Franciscans don't live within those boundaries.
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  #69  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2019, 2:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
i guess it's a good thing that i've never used yelp or any online resource to research my dry cleaner or grocery store.

the only thing i've looked to reviews for are restaurants, and lincoln square is LOADED with high quality restaurants, both high-end places and affordable ethnic hole-in-the-walls, and everything in between.

but if i was high-maintenance enough to actually check yelp reviews for grocery stores, and found that a gorcery store two neighborhoods over was very highly rated, and i was so inclined to go there, i live 1 block from an el station and am surrounded on all side by bus routes.

but i probably still wouldn't give a fuck.
People have different needs. Apparently I'm high-maintenance, but if you ask me, my criteria is nothing but basic, everyday services that any functioning member of society would need/want in seeking out a "walkable" neighborhood. And I didn't even specify any kind of coffee shops, grocers, or dining options, so it's not like I have absurdly unrealistic standards for walkability. I don't want to have to wait 5-10 minutes for a train/bus, take a 5-10-minute train/bus ride, and then walk for another 5-10 minutes just to withdraw $100 from the ATM. Is that "high-maintenance"?
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  #70  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2019, 4:51 AM
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I have all those things except a post office within easy walking distance, and I can take the subway to a post office quite quickly if I need to... (but like... I can't even remember the last time I went to a post office...).
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  #71  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2019, 4:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Quixote View Post
People have different needs. Apparently I'm high-maintenance, but if you ask me, my criteria is nothing but basic, everyday services that any functioning member of society would need/want in seeking out a "walkable" neighborhood. And I didn't even specify any kind of coffee shops, grocers, or dining options, so it's not like I have absurdly unrealistic standards for walkability. I don't want to have to wait 5-10 minutes for a train/bus, take a 5-10-minute train/bus ride, and then walk for another 5-10 minutes just to withdraw $100 from the ATM. Is that "high-maintenance"?
My credit union reimburses me ATM fees , so I just use the ATM outside my building when I need cash :-p.
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  #72  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2019, 5:16 AM
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The bottom line is that walkability and car-freedom are about convenience. If you need to jump through hoops, do lots of strategic planning, or reluctantly make lots of sacrifices, then that to me says a lot about a neighborhood’s livability/walkability *IMO*. Of course plenty of people in SF, Chicago, Boston, Philly, and DC manage just fine without a car—this isn’t life or death.
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  #73  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2019, 6:11 AM
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Here's another litmus test:

Suppose you did own a car and that finding parking--both at your place of residence and your final destination--would never be an issue. How many more amenities of practical usage could you access that you otherwise couldn't on foot within 10 minutes of leaving your home?

In the case of Park Slope, the answer is not much. You pretty much have your choice of:

--major banks (Chase, BoA, Citi, but no WF)
--convenice stores (Rite-Aid, CVS, 7-Eleven, but no Walgreens)
--service providers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint)
--quality grocers
--quality restaurants
--coffee shops (Starbucks and tons of well-rated indie ones)
--bakeries and pastry shops
--ice cream and frozen yogurt parlors
--laundromats and dry cleaners

And it has access to multiple subway stations, not streetcars or bus lines. A car just wouldn't be useful in any meaningful sense.
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  #74  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2019, 6:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quixote View Post
...
1) Chase
2) USPS
3) UPS
4) FedEx
5) Multiple coffee shop options
6) Multiple grocery options
7) Multiple laundromat options
8) Multiple convenience store options
9) Quality, non-chain dining options
...
Where I live in Chicago (River North), there's a Chase within a five minute walk, several more within ten. A major USPS location, plus UPS and FedEx are each about 7 minutes away. I think there are close to ten coffee places within a five minute walk I can think of four within a two-minute walk. Only one grocery store within a five minute walk, but two more within ten minutes, and an additional for at about 12 minutes - a but far, but not too bad, and all of these are proper grocery stores, not bodega-type of places - there are also multiple delivery grocers. I'm not aware of any laundromats, but all buildings in this part of Chicago either have in-unit (most places), or in-building laundry and there are dry cleaners - I rarely use them, but one of four within a five minute walk. There are three chain pharmacies within five minutes, an additional three within ten. There are at least 5 strictly convenience stores within a five minute walk, and probably at least another five within ten minutes. Also several gyms and fitness training businesses like yoga or other athletic centers. There are also three convenient shops that are sort of like bodegas (not exactly, but similar) within five minutes. And don't forget liquor stores, they overlap with convenience stores, at least here, with at least three decent ones within five minutes. I also have a pet store within five minutes, and a second within ten, and two vets within five, and at least two urgent-care centers for humans within ten, and an optician within ten. And a hardware store within ten minutes. And tons of restaurants, everything from hot dog shops to Michelin-starred fine dining places, from steakhouses to vegan raw food places. Also, several pastry shops, a couple ice cream shops, at least one bike shop, lots of art galleries and churches and nightclubs, several addiction centers, from government methadone to high end private like Hazelton. And a few clothes places within five minutes, and many, many more within fifteen. Also some schools or training centers, including an artist club/school, a teacher's school, and a psychology school all within ten minutes. And Loyola, Northwestern, and University of Chicago have at least some buildings within 10-15 minutes walking. And several preschools within a five minute walk. And a movie theatre within a ten minute walk - and an Eataly!. A number of mobile shops, two ultra-high-end mattress shops, and many high end furniture shops and rug shops. Many hotels within both 5 and 10 minutes. A couple tile shops. Also within a ten minute walk are my physician's office and my insurance agent and traffic court, I have to walk fifteen minutes to see my lawyer or visit a Level 1 Trauma ER. And one 'L' station serving two lines 3 minutes away, a third line's station is 8 minutes, and if I walk 12 minutes I can access four additional lines, in case I don't want to transfer. And tons of buses. Oh, and two minutes walk is a high-end specialty used car dealer (think everything from vintage Benz to classic Ferraris in addition to lightly used BMWs, Lotus, Austin-Martin, etc, and within ten minutes a dealer who sells Bentley and Lambo.

I suppose that's why rent in this neighborhood is the highest in the city.

As far as whether I'd use a car more if it was easy, I actually own a parking space because it's attached to my unit (legally, not physically), and lived with someone who had a car for several years, someone who travelled a lot and let me use his car anytime. I used his car about every two weeks or so - once a month to get bigger, heavier groceries or home goods, once a month to visit specialty shops that were easier to reach by car. Even to visit my brother in the suburbs I only ever borrowed that car once, I usually took commuter rail to see him.
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Last edited by emathias; Jan 11, 2019 at 7:28 AM.
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  #75  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2019, 7:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Quixote View Post
Here's another litmus test:

Suppose you did own a car and that finding parking--both at your place of residence and your final destination--would never be an issue. How many more amenities of practical usage could you access that you otherwise couldn't on foot within 10 minutes of leaving your home?

In the case of Park Slope, the answer is not much. You pretty much have your choice of:

--major banks (Chase, BoA, Citi, but no WF)
--convenice stores (Rite-Aid, CVS, 7-Eleven, but no Walgreens)
--service providers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint)
--quality grocers
--quality restaurants
--coffee shops (Starbucks and tons of well-rated indie ones)
--bakeries and pastry shops
--ice cream and frozen yogurt parlors
--laundromats and dry cleaners

And it has access to multiple subway stations, not streetcars or bus lines. A car just wouldn't be useful in any meaningful sense.
In the case of San Francisco, 2 additional supermarkets is all I can think of. And a car is NOT useful--I once had one and the battery was constantly dead because I didn't drive it enough to keep it charged.

Yeah, I live east of Divisadero and north of Market. That's 1/4 of the city. But there are neighborhoods in other areas where it's also true. I'd say most of the Richmond which is just a few blocks wide between Golden Gate Park and the Presidio/Lincoln Park and has 2 major shopping streets--Geary and Clement. That's another 20% or so of the city.

You are just enamored of Park Slope. I've walked around there. The fact is, it didn't seem to offer as much as large swaths of SF (although there were a couple good restaurants that were the reason I went there).

Incidentally, Park Slope has a walk score of 95. As I said, my SF neighborhood is 96.
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  #76  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2019, 9:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Quixote View Post
Walking distance is generally 0.5 miles (10 minutes), although 5-6 minutes or less is obviously ideal (especially for grocery shopping).

I guess my frustration is that, as an Angeleno, we’re made to believe that a car-free lifestyle could never be possible here like it is in the Big Six, and yet the standard is so low IMO. Most of Philly, Boston, Chicago, SF, and DC are just blocks and blocks of rowhouses with spotty/underdeveloped/blown out commercial strips. Park Slope’s 5th and 7th Avenues have commercial intensity that spans the entire length of the neighborhood.
I'm happy with 20-25 minutes walking for things like restaurants, parks, bars etc, which is a leisurely 10 minute cycle. For groceries less distance is better but if you are only buying small amounts then a 15-20 minute walk is fine, for larger amounts you can always order online and get it delivered, lots of people round here seem to do that as I see supermarket vans dropping off orders all day long.
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  #77  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2019, 11:40 AM
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As for the other criteria mentioned, here's how my neigbourhood in a town of 75,000 people works out..

1) Chase

I guess this means a branch of whatever bank you use. I do have several ATMs within a 5-10 minute walk, all free to use, the nearest bank branches are around 10 minutes walk away. However I never use a bank branch, haven't been inside one for several years now. I'm with an app-only bank that doesn't have any physical presence, i maybe take money out of an ATM once every couple of months but 99% of my payments are on my phone/card so I don't see access to a physical bank as an essential these days.

2) USPS
3) UPS
4) FedEx

All postal services, i guess for picking up/sending parcels? Being in the UK there's obviously no USPS, but there are a couple of branches of the UK Post Office within a 10 minute walk. Not sure about UPS or FedEx, but there are various other companies doing the same thing at convenience stores etc within a few minutes walk.

5) Multiple coffee shop options

Yep, several of these within 5-10 minutes, go to 15 minutes and there are dozens of them

6) Multiple grocery options

Yep, a couple of larger supermarkets, a couple of smaller supermarkets, an indoor market with lots of food stalls, a few bakeries, delis, butchers shops, fishmongers etc twice a month farmers market, all within 15 minutes walk. Plus all 4 of the biggest UK supermarkets deliver a well as a few other online only grocery delivery services

7) Multiple laundromat options

There are two that I know of about 15 mins walk away, and the supermarkets have dry-cleaning services. But we have a washing machine so laundromat is not something I'd ever use in any case.

8) Multiple convenience store options

Yep, the small supermarkets mentioned above, plus a few others within 5-10 minutes walk that don't sell so much in the way of fresh groceries but have convenience products.

9) Quality, non-chain dining options

Yep, tripadvisor has around 250 restaurants and bars within a 20 minute walk, probably 70-80% of them are non-chain.

Then there is a large town park and riverwalk plus a couple of cinemas within 10 minutes walk, one multiplex and one small independent cinema. There's a theatre and a rail station within 15-20 minutes walk, and around 500 shops in the town centre anything between 5 and 20 minutes walk away.
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  #78  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2019, 2:03 PM
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I have to say, I'm a little confused why banks are considered to be such a major convenience thing to be in your neighborhood. I have direct deposit and online banking, like most people these days. I maybe stop by an ATM once every two weeks, because I use debit for most things and $100 in cash can last me for awhile (I could even avoid this if I got cash back in stores, but I seldom do this). I actually went inside and talked with a bank employee only once in the last six months, because my card's chip stopped working and I needed to order another one. Not to mention I work downtown, meaning it's very convenient to do banking during the work day. Being a 10-minute walk from a bank wouldn't improve my life one bit.

Honestly, same with the post office and other shipping options. I get as many things in the mail as anyone else, but I don't really ship anything out except to a few people around the holidays, and there's a post office a three-minute walk from my work. It wouldn't improve my life in any way having one in my neighborhood.

In terms of a totally car-free lifestyle, personally it would require:

1. A neighborhood school that our kids go to (right now the transportation situation with our oldest daughter's magnet school basically necessitates a car due to the neighborhood it's in).
2. A grocery store
3. At least 2-3 restaurants which fit my needs (vegetarian/vegan friendly and kid friendly). Hopefully they serve alcohol too, but I'm really only a 1-2 beer a night guy these days, so it doesn't matter.
4. A coffeeshop
5. A convenience store

Adding this stuff together, that's like everything I might regularly drive to in a week (I only drive maybe twice a week now, my wife does most of the driving, but this covers her trips as well). There's still rando stuff like a barbershops, dentists, and phone stores, and such are a few times a year, and can be done around work.
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  #79  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2019, 2:08 PM
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Monkeyronin covered most of the bases for Toronto, but I'll add on probably the grittiest stretch of commercial chaos in the city centre.

https://www.google.ca/maps/@43.65454...=en&authuser=0

An infamous intersection with an eclectic mix of businesses as you move East down Queen Street. You've got your discount store, tattoo parlour, dive bar, book store, bike shop, butcher.

It's right around the corner from the Salvation Army and across the street from Moss Park, one of the cities most infamous public drug-use sites. That being said I don't really feel unsafe walking around this area. I was even seeing a Brazilian girl who lived in an apartment building 1 block up on Shelbourne. We would walk to her place from the bars downtown, and the only time I would say I was concerned was one time at 2 am when there were 3 homeless guys beating the crap out of another in the middle of the street. They didn't seem too interested in us though.
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  #80  
Old Posted Jan 11, 2019, 2:37 PM
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I will add under the El in downtown Chicago. Really it's quite posh (with a few holdouts) but the
the giant noisy shaking hulking structure makes it feel somewhat gritty and cluttered.

https://www.google.com/maps/@41.8857...7i16384!8i8192

https://www.google.com/maps/@41.8785...7i16384!8i8192


https://www.google.com/maps/@41.8853...7i16384!8i8192

https://www.google.com/maps/@41.8851...7i16384!8i8192
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