Edited portions written by Sydney Brownstone, HP Matters
We’ve been hearing about it for years: The 21st century is the era of global urbanization, or urban globalization, or both. But now that more people want to live in cities, bigger questions loom. What makes a city? And what makes a city a desirable place to live?
The stereotypical trappings of urban living (i.e. crowds, tall, shiny buildings) do not a city make. In order to figure out what does, designow that more people want to live in cities, bigger quesn firm Sasaki recently published the results of a 1,000-person, six-city survey that asked residents what they loved and hated about their surroundings. Some answers could have been anticipated, but other responses were more surprising.
- HISTORIC BUILDINGS
Take, for instance, people’s affection for historic buildings. According to Sasaki’s survey, 57% of city-dwellers stop to look at old buildings when walking down the street (more than the 15% who stare at skyscrapers), and more than half agreed that renovating old buildings so that they retain their architectural character should be a priority. Only 17% said they felt their city was “too quaint” and wanted more shiny “iconic” buildings
San Antonio’s deep affection for its rich history is celebrated throughout downtown, and it extends well beyond the Alamo. From the Schroeder-Yturri House nestled adjacent to the Grand Hyatt, the eclectic historic houses at Hemisfair, to the La Villita Historic District and dozens of other buildings on Bexar County’s National Register of Historic Places, downtown San Antonio delivers a rich architectural history.
When urbanites bemoan the Starbucks opening up on their block, it’s usually not because they hate Starbucks, but because the Starbucks is replacing something else—maybe a mom-and-pop shop, or that deli with the best egg and cheese around. An important note from the Sasaki survey: 46% of residents said they’d leave their neighborhoods to try a new restaurant. What can this tell us? Optimizing a city so that every chain and franchised amenity is within a couple blocks of your home doesn’t necessarily make it a great place to be.
In San Antonio, The Culinary Arts Institute of America sets the stage for an exciting array of epicurean delights. Voted the #3 Foodie City by Travel and Leisure Magazine, dozens of new chefs making their mark in this City with a great appreciation for ingenuity and flair. Break away from the Riverwalk to Southtown, The Pearl or Alamo Heights to experience a culinary culture that’s creating a national buzz.
No surprise here. People love parks. Nearly half of those surveyed said the waterfront was their favorite place to be, which contains a note of sadness, too. Will cities be able to adapt their waterfronts to rising sea levels? Or will we all eventually be forced to retreat? There are still a lot of creative suggestions to the first question before we resort to answering the second.
San Antonio’s waterfront doesn’t share the same concern about sea level. Its expansion to the south with dovetail with the renaissance of Hemisfair into a world-class urban oasis. Home of the Tower of America’s and the 1968 World’s Fair is being reimagined by the designers and planners of Hyde Park in London and Millennium Park in Chicago. With construction underway, Hemisfair in San Antonio will soon be the landmark destination the world is talking about.
- EASY TRANSPORTATION
Just because a city’s dense doesn’t mean it directs its traffic well. More than 40% of those surveyed highlighted traffic as their most frustrating issue, followed by lack of parking. Cities across the states are still working to develop functional bike share programs and more efficient public transit, but shifting away from a reliance on cars still has a long way to go.
San Antonio’s support of the B Cycle Bike Sharing program is only one of the many transportation options throughout the city. Riverwalk water taxis and downtown trolleys create a sense of adventure and fun when traversing the popular entertainment districts. More importantly, the rich concentration of museums, galleries, fine dining, performing arts and other cultural diversions, creates a dynamic city center. For those living at Alteza above the Grand Hyatt, it’s a walkable downtown lifestyle unlike any other.
These and many other unique characteristics have been recognized and showcased in the newly published UP & COMING DOWNTOWN SAN ANTONIO magazine. To learn more about life downtown, register below to receive your complimentary edition.