Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Half of Urbanism

Last Friday I went to dinner with some colleagues to Wynwood Kitchen at Wynwood Walls, the original group of warehouses painted in changing murals.  Always spectacular.  To walk from courtyard to courtyard surrounded by mammoth-sized Art is both stunning and urbane.  And lots of people walking around, filling restaurants and galleries that have moved into the raw warehouse spaces.  It's as much of an urban scene as Miami can produce, like Lincoln Road used to be.  
However, no one lives there.   Everyone drives in to participate in in urban life, then they drive home again.  Is that really urbanism?  Perhaps not yet.  The scene in Wynwood is just a half of city life, adrift with neither infrastructure nor a residential population, like one of Miami's many attractions invented by clever investors.  However Wynwood is now sparking development that will bring housing and perhaps offices and transit and the other elements that fill out a city, bit by bit, by popular demand.  Some residential towers are planned but none are under construction now.
Some of us in front of "Codo a codo" (elbow to elbow) by INTI

Here's the irony.  Some people drive to Wynwood from their apartments in new high-rise buildings on Miami Beach or Biscayne Boulevard.  Bus service is miserable, walking is unpleasant, and transit non-existent.  In fact, they drive everywhere, pouring out of the parking garage in the morning on their way to work and returning at night.  The towers have a few amenities around them, but not much.  They are the other half of city life, detached and adrift, tethered only by traffic.

In the fullness of time both Wynwood and Biscayne Boulevard might accrue enough of the qualities of the other to become fully urban.  But can Miami wait that long?

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