In The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs relates the important lessons taught by her Greenwich Village neighborhood. She noted that a diversity of uses and tightly spaced stoops, shops and windows hugging the street create a lively, socially-engaged community. Similarly, streets at the waterfront should encourage mixed uses with front doors, retail shops, cafes and restaurants providing for a “lively streetscape.” Combined with a continuous, public park at the water’s edge, the waterfront becomes a destination, a place that brings people together. 

Conversely, blank walls with few front doors or windows deaden a streetscape. Ground floor parking, or worse – multi-story parking garages abutting sidewalks — is a sure-fire means of killing street life. Setting buildings too far back from the front lot line further detracts from the life and vitality of urban streets.

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dead streetscape

Parking garages at River Street and Third in Hoboken deaden the streetscape.