5.05.2007

More is More

Paul Levy likes to quote another guy in his speech about Center City
that in the suburbs "more is less," while in the city "more is more."
What he means is that in the 'burbs, more people means more
congestion, more wear and tear, more crowding - basically less quality
of life. Whereas in the city, more people means more vibrancy, more
electricity, more action - basically more quality of life.

Nowhere is this more evident than the proliferation of sidewalk cafes
in downtown Philadelphia. Already a walkable, parkified, historic
downtown, Philly had practically no sidewalk cafes as recent as ten
years ago, and now it has hundreds.

And with people out seeing and being seen, it makes for a fantastic
street buzz. More really is more in this case, because more sidewalk
latte sippers and cuisine indulgers make for more pedestrians, and
more pedestrians means safer streets, and safer streets encourage even
more milling about, and so on and so on in a virtuous cycle.

I used to go to other parts of the country and marvel at how wide and
spread out the streets are, and it did feel good to feel like you had
more space. But the flip side of being densely packed together in an
old, laid-out-before-the-invention-of-the-car sort of city like
Philadelphia, is that it is easy to walk from Point A to Point B, and
there's plenty of human contact in between.

So all the axioms are in effect here. People are attracted to people.
There's safety in numbers. And, in this case, more is more.

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