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A whole essay could be written on the Ebasco report - and ought to be. From the politics behind it (Ebasco is/was a subsiderary of Washington Water Power), to its content (true to its time, Ebasco envisioned an almost Corbusian sectioning of the city by major use - government, housing, commerce, etc.), to its built effect (couplets that are and/or are still being built, Ebasco's place as impetus for Expo and Riverfront Park), Ebasco probably - for good or ill - ranks with the 1908 Olmsted Report in terms of overall influence on Spokane.

Silent Bahb

Sacramento did something simlar in the last few decades with a ring of one-way streets surrounding a central pedestrian-only boulevard, anchored by a shopping mall at one end and, rather ironically, a cathedral at the other. The result, unfortunately, is a large area of the City that is often empty and not easily patrolled by conventional law enforcment. Nor is emergency response effective or timely in this area due to the various pedestrian/shopper ammenities in the boulevard. You got it right MS - cars, pedestrians, and bikes CAN get along harmoniously. I have seen it with my own eyes - though I'm often shouted down for a heretic by saying so.


A similar plan was developed and implemented in the 1970s in downtown Eugene, Ore to compete with a new peripheral mall. The "pedestrian mall" crushed local business, was prone to crime and was a total blight by the '90s. It's only been since the street was reinstalled (with lots of calming islands and landscaping) that this area has started to rebound. Thank god they only implemented half of this plan here.


Steve - I lived in Eugene from '85-'00 (when we moved back to Spokane), so I know exactly what you're describing. The downtown mall was a scary place even during the day. I'd love to see what it's like now.


The basic problem with public malls is that they are public property, and thus open to the public, with no reserved "right to refuse service to anyone," as with private property. Privately owned mall operators can quickly remove loiterers and troublemakers; indeed, anyone they think detracts from the ambience of the place. Municipalities are hard-pressed even to forbid setting up campsites on public land. Best to limit public ownership to street right-of-ways and leave the amenities to the private market.


Contrarian - once again you have hit the nail on the head. I too hope that one we rid ourselves of the horror of loiterers and anybody that detracts from the "ambiance" of a public space. Hopefully we can privatize Manito and Riverfront Parks soon to ensure that they have the proper feeling that we're looking for. I for one prefer spending my time at Northtown because while I'm there I don't have to mix with homeless street youth, street vendors or the occasional performer and I get the additional benefit of feeling like I'm in Anyplace, USA where all of the storefronts look the exact same as when I'm visiting friends in other parts of the country and it is always 70 degrees inside the climate controlled shell. I just get so tired of letting everybody and anybody into public spaces where they can express themselves however they want. Oh wait - I realize after writing that I sound really foolish... [MOD-EDIT] keep the flaming to a minimum [/MOD-EDIT]


Heh. You get the same "Anyplace, USA" atmosphere in public malls as in private ones. The same chains set up shop in both. The only difference is that in the private mall you don't have to fend off panhandlers and step over sleeping winos to get into them.

Ooops --- I'm being politically incorrect. I meant those unfortunate victims of our callous, uncaring society.


This is an interesting thread. In fact, I notice this blog has quite the focus (and a sharp one at that) on planning and transportation. Would it be Ok to link some of your threads to the Spokane Regional Transportation Coiuncil's new blog from time to time? here is a link to the SRTC Blog

We also have a new blog for Kootenai Metropolitan Transportation Organization


Ah, the 60's. Back when they were planning to rename 1st Avenue "MetroSpokane". I'm definitely gonna lift that puce color for some comp boards in the future.

Contrarian, I've bought sandwiches for crack addicts who came across as more charming than you. They were also much more aware of the fact that today, many pedestrian malls are actually privately administered and have their very own rent-a-cops to chase out the homeless, as well as protesters and kids who are just hanging around.

A lovely development in our public spaces, of course, because everybody knows that an inclusive society is ALL ABOUT pleasant and non-challenging ambience!


Well, you have a choice, Kate. Either the downtown public spaces are non-challenging, or the shoppers and patrons of professional offices go the malls instead, and take their money with them.


Contrarian, I'd agree with you if:

- the hypothetical mall had the same quality and diversity of shops and services as the hypothetical downtown

- the hypothetical mall were as pretty to look at as the hypothetical downtown and had the same potential for identification as the hypothetical downtown

- all the hypothetical customers were really so terribly nervous about the mere possibility of "stepping over" a homeless person

- all the police in the hypothetical downtown refused to police the streets for some reason

- all the business owners in the hypothetical downtown threw up their hands and said "Oh nooo, the mall is coming!" rather than finding ways to compete

- the hypothetical downtown was some kind of godawful Randian vision in which there were absolutely no institutions to help out the homeless and keep them off the streets during the day

Reducing the entire situation to one variable isn't very helpful. You might want to look at what business improvement districts can do for a downtown nowadays.

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