Friday, July 30, 2010

Revitalizing Downtown

This is my city, though this is the 8th largest city in US, but it was not spared from the threat of urban decay due to suburban sprawl.
San Diego Skyline
The suburban sprawl has brought a lot of upscale and bigger shopping malls away from downtown with major stores such as Macy's, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale, Saks, Neiman Marcus and designer stores such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Prada, Gucci, and many more other major designer stores you can think of. Perhaps it is for this reason, that for a certain period, the heart of San Diego District underwent urban decay as people flew to the suburbs.  Perhaps for people not working and living in downtown, there is not much reason anymore to go here. However, San Diego revitalized its downtown and reinforced it with historic preservation, housing, public transportation, public facilities and major destinations that will bring in converging pedestrian traffic. The centerpiece of downtown development was Horton Plaza Mall.
Horton Plaza Mall
This mall, during the 1960s and 1970s was a major transit center and was home to substantial homeless population. However, plans to revitalize downtown transformed Horton Plaza as a centerpiece of downtown development. Twenty years after opening, Horton Plaza generates the city's highest sales per unit area. It generates pedestrian traffic and shares it with other major downtown destinations,
Convention Center ( hosts the annual Comic-con )- one of major destinations in downtown San Diego
paving the way for the revitalization of the Gaslamp District. 
Gaslamp District, San Diego
The Gaslamp District is a 16-1/2 block historical neighborhood in downtown San Diego. The District was originally built in the 1860s and was known as San Diego's New Town, in contrast to San Diego's Old Town, which was the original Spanish colonial settlement of San Diego. 
Old Town San Diego

Now, Old Town San Diego is a State Historic Park and presents to experience the history of early San Diego by providing a connection to the past. Whereas the Gaslamp District or New Town ( or now simply called downtown San Diego) has survived the renewal after undergoing through a period of urban decay.  The revitalization of downtown San Diego has become successful and today serves as a center of business and entertainment.
One of Old Town's Quaint Little Shops
Some Items Just Outside of the Tinsmith Shop Above

However, how many other cities and towns that underwent urban decay continued to suffer and were not able to bring back their old town's glory? Some cities and some small towns may now look like a ghost town for their residents abandoned them to look for job elsewhere. The recent trend in outsourcing jobs for cheaper labor has brought many industries to close down, leaving people without jobs. However, there is no place like home. I am sure if these towns and cities are revitalized, and jobs will come in, people will go back again to the place they have called home for a long time.

Thankfully, there are some companies that are dedicated to revitalize America's small towns, such as Ramblers Way Farm. Knowing that most towns suffer due to lost of jobs due to outsourcing for cheaper labor and also due to imports for cheaper materials, Ramblers Way Farm patronizes everything that is Made in America. Ramblers Way sources, grows, and produces their fine woolen apparel using 100% domestic resources. They have brought manufacturing facilities into distressed small towns and are helping to revitalize the communities. Their corporate office is fully refurbished building that was originally built in 1792 and is located in downtown Kennebunk, Maine. The building has been restored to its original condition, while being modernized to meet today's environmental standard. The company has achieved Gold Lead Certification Level. Hopefully, other companies and industries will follow the example of Ramblers Way's dedication to revitalize communities, preserve the town's history and live the American dream.

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  1. Cool. Hope I will get the chance to visit Gaslamp District when I visit San Diego in December. It looks like interesting. Anything with a hint of history is always interesting to me not because I was a History teacher but because it is where you can walk back in time and experience the people's culture.

    Congratulations... you do know your town. You are not just someone who are living in a town but someone who is a part of that town.

  2. Horton Plaza Mall? It looks so colorful. :D

  3. I love San Diego. Had I not picked San Francisco, it is the only other large California city, I would have chosen to make my home. For smaller locales, I like San Luis Obispo and the Monterey area. I love the ocean so much, it would be really hard for me to live inland anymore. I love the variety offered by both San Francisco and San Diego.

  4. I think my city of Detroit might be the poster child of urban decay. I would have loved it if some of our older buildings could have been saved, but it really never happened. Thankfully we are just now beginning to see a renewal of sorts. We won't have the old, but the new will hopefully be great.

  5. Lovely photos, Beth. Good capture on each one, clear, vivid, and very inviting. Looks as if those photos jumped out from a travel magazine. Would love to visit San Diego someday.

  6. I have been to SF and LA, but not to San Diego. Thanks for the tour.

  7. Fantastic pictures of your city, Betchai! I haven't been to San Diego yet, and I would love to visit some days..

  8. This was a great post and you really do live in a lovely city.

  9. I do not care for city life, but your pictures are awesome. I do like to visit, and maybe stay a few days, then back the peace of the country.

  10. Love the quaint shops and the horse and carriage. Yes, with it's popularity and being a major tourist destination it's crucial to have a revitalization project in the works. Transportation is crucial to cities like San Diego and SF.

  11. You covered the best part of San Diego. I am telling you, you can start your own Tour Business.

    I love the atmosphere and feel of Old Town. It is just so pretty!

  12. Cities r like living organisms .. dynamic n alive n then they sort of decay. urban decay eventually sets in. Yr city's vision of urban renewal seems to work though

  13. I didn't go to Comic-con this year, but it's always a pleasure to have dinner in the Gaslamp district. I've been to Old Town countless number of times and I have always taken the same old photos. Your sunset picture of Old Town is wonderful and have not seen it from that view.

  14. I love San Diego's skyline as you come across from Shelter Island area. We live about an hour and twenty minutes from there, maybe not that long (Inland Empire)....

    great photos and enjoyed the post.

  15. I love your tour through the old town. Wonderful descriptions.

  16. Since getting to know Joys of Simple Life, I have little appreciation for San Diego, but you have slowly changed my mind. It's a "wow" city through your lens.

  17. Wow..what a gorgeous downtown! Haven't been in San Diego before so this is such a treat to see.

    Your night photos are stunning!

  18. Night or day, that's a beautiful place!