Tag Archives: Milwaukee

Walkability in our Home Town

Yesterday, I absent-mindedly clicked on a link leading me to a list of 9 communities named “Walk Friendly Communities” by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC).  I was pleasantly surprised to find our own small home town suburb making the cut!  The designation is given to communities that have actively demonstrated their devotion to walkability through policies, plans, and programs.

Shorewood in part makes the cut due to their snow removal enforcement.  Growing up, I always thought this policy was universal – Don’t shovel your side walk and receive a fine.  Though many cities have this bylaw, Shorewood seems to be a rarity in that it is committed to enforcing it.

Three cheers for Shorewood!  And if you’re in the area, be sure to check out Doors Open Milwaukee Sept 22 and 23rd.

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What makes a Street Beautiful?

What makes a street beautiful?  The folks over at OpenPlans are trying to figure that out.  The project asks website visitors to choose from pairs of randomly selected streets in Philadelphia to decide which is more beautiful.  It’s a neat idea, but has some major flaws:

Firstly, the project uses images from Google Street View.  Anyone who has used street view knows that images are distorted, and quality varies greatly.  When clicking through the “beautiful streets” survey, I found myself clicking the better quality image almost every time…even when I was trying not to.  Something that was fish-eyed and hazy was hard to identify as “beautiful.”

Secondly, the angles of the photographs vary and have a big impact on the viewer.  You can rotate the images (as in google street view), but will people actually?  I didn’t much.  Thus, if the first view is that of a concrete wall, it’s not going to look beautiful,  though the street may in fact be.

Improving the project would take a lot of additional work, and I’m not sure it’d be worth it.  But perhaps the organizers could go out and take their own 200 pictures.  How to avoid bias by the photographers is an immediate issue here.  There’d also be a loss of “3D” capabilities, but I’m not sure that’s an issue.

You can decide for yourself, though.  Check out the project HERE. And let me know what you think.  Is the project going to get any useful data?  Are there any easy fixes the organizers could have taken to improve on the project?

And for good measure, one of my favourite beautiful streets, Newberry Blvd in Milwaukee, WI.  Google Street View doesn’t really do it justice.

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I’d Live There

Right next to Lake Park...

I’ve loved this house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for years.  Its on the East Side of the city, right near a Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park and near Newbury Street, recently named on of America’s great streets by the American Planning Association.  I particularly love the external staircase on the right-hand side and the pitched roof that must make the third floor seem incredibly spacious.  And I love the variety of windows.

There are a ton of beautiful houses in this neighborhood, but this one has always been my favorite.

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