The downtown is the only part of the city that belongs to everybody. It doesn’t matter where you may find your home; the downtown is yours, too. Investing in the downtown of a city is the only place-based way to benefit all of its citizens at once. And there’s more. Every relocation decision, be it a college graduate’s or a corporation’s, is made with an image of place in mind. That image is palpable and it is powerful. It is resolutely physical: a picture of buildings, streets, squares, cafes, and the social life that those places engender. Whether good or bad, that image is hard to shake. And, with rare exception, that image is downtown. Each city’s reputation therefore rests in large part on its downtown’s physical attributes. If the downtown doesn’t look good, the city doesn’t look good. People won’t want to move there, and it will be much harder for citizens to feel good about the place where they have chosen to live. A beautiful and vibrant downtown, in contrast, can be the rising tide that lifts all ships…. A little bit of great downtown can help push a whole city into the great category. That is the place to begin.

Jeff Speck
Walkable City