Elizabeth Wong sends this lovely photo by Instagram user @jrsparks2:
“Why do we applaud ourselves on having such a beautiful city, when most people enjoy it from a distance?” Wong asks. “In Italy, and in other metro cities people would be strolling this before and after dinner.”
I would have preferred just to enjoy the beautiful photo without contemplating our urban shortcomings. The answer, since Wong asked, is that too few people live downtown. The area feels vacant therefore unsafe at night.
European cities have done a remarkable job of keeping their downtowns alive. I stayed in Athens within a stone’s throw of the ancient market and the area was crackling with tavernas and music that drew young couples to dine and dance well after midnight. And that downtown is well over 2,000 years old.
However, I reject any defeatism regarding Stockton’s waterfront downtown. It will be revived. It is rumored that a Bay Area developer is negotiating with the city to buy one of its hotels with the idea of building apartments and a ground-floor farmer’s market. Zak Cort has done a feasibility study to determine whether residential or commercial will work better in the Medico-Dental Building. The recession is lifting. Lawwmakers are working on mechanisms to replace Redevelopment Agencies. The city’s General Plan Settlement Agreement mandates infill.
We’ll see people promenading on the waterfront in our lifetimes. We’ll be those people.