Raleigh Musings, A New Banner, and Life

Another week, another disappointment. Am I disappointed with downtown Raleigh? Absolutely not. I hope everyone has had the opportunity to just be outside and to walk around these days. The trees are practically full now and the warm breezes are refreshing. Even with that going on, I’m disappointed with the amount of blogging I’ve done here on RalCon and I bet long time readers have noticed the slow down. I’m using this blog post to reflect a bit.

I’ve updated the banner image on the site and I’m a bit excited about it. For awhile I’ve had a version of this great skyline shot I took from down in the Boylan Wye. It has been almost three years since I took that photo and used it as the site’s banner image. Slowly, very slowly, I’ve started to realize that the skyline shouldn’t be what Raleigh is about at all.

Downtown Raleigh’s real life is on the sidewalks and the growth that this blog has been following for the past five years is all about the network of treasures within this small area. It’s not what you see from afar but what is happening between those buildings that make downtown Raleigh a place to be and experience. I’ve found myself becoming more and more interested in the human interactions that occur around all those structures within the five districts of downtown.

The banner image is a snapshot of humans interacting on what is clearly our main street, Fayetteville Street. This is how I want to showcase our city. I hope an image like this and ones similar to it make any new visitor to this blog see it and think, “Hey, I want to be there.”

Transit, public space, the sidewalks and the businesses that connect are just some of the topics I want to keep talking about. New buildings are a part of it and while the skyline looks great on TV in high-def it is not what is going to keep people coming back if there’s no life in downtown. I’ve realized that I’ve been taking this approach ever since day one of blogging for RalCon. All my material and photos come from walking the sidewalks and seeing things for myself.

My job is more demanding these days and life put me as the star (or the number 2 as most people tell me) of an upcoming wedding so times are tight. Along with some neighborhood projects to keep me busy I’m sometimes slammed and I can’t get to these great topics mentioned earlier.

But times may change and we’ll one day get to discuss those topics more in-depth. Get out and walk downtown Raleigh tonight or this weekend. It’s a great time to do it.

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  1. This is one of my favorite posts ever. I wish more people shared this sentiment. Well, let me rephrase that; I think most people share this sentiment, but they do not realize it. I was struck by a discussion thread on a forum I was reading recently arguing whether Nashville or Charlotte was better. I would estimate 75% of the posts were focused on which one has taller buildings. There is so much focus on the skyline of the city, which really only matters to those driving by from afar or taking in the view from the suburbs. One only has to go to New York City, where the most pleasant, vibrant and interesting neighborhoods are most certainly not in downtown or midtown. Would anyone ever argue that DC or Paris are not dense or interesting because of a lack of skyscrapers?

    In January (during one of those ridiculously nice weekends) a friend from planning school visited from out of state and I took him to several cities around NC. While he was severely underwhelmed by uptown Charlotte, he was amazed by the amount of activity going on in the streets of downtown Raleigh. This is why I was not as disappointed as many when I heard about the scaled-down Edison; I think mid-rise is fine if not ideal (although the physical design is another issue). Skyscrapers are fine and can certainly add a wealth of new office space, residential and retail, but if they create a black hole at street level they are worthless.

  2. You are 100% spot on, buddy. Life on the sidewalks of downtown Raleigh is what it’s all about. Nothing like walking down S Wilmington or Fayetteville St on a Friday evening lately to see the energy and the people really coming out to enjoy our city.

    We all forgive your ‘slacking’ as you take on real life.

  3. Excellent post. Bragging about, comparing, and demanding skyscrapers to me seems juvenile.

    My biggest beef about Edison is that the old buildings, some more than 100 years old, are getting torn down rather than moved – buildings like this can be and often are moved, given how few buildings of this vintage we have in Raleigh, we should preserve what we have. Where should they be moved? Somewhere near City Market or Moore Square. There are plenty of possibilities.

  4. Being a blogger myself I’m always amazed at how much you get done on RalCon, and I’m also aware of your other projects with the DLA that compete for your time. When your passionate about your subject (DT Raleigh) as you are, I’m sure you find it’s all worthwhile.

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