Oakland Avenue's future--more past than future.

Past extends into the future.



Several weeks ago, I speculated as to how the Pick-n-Save block in Shorewood might look like in the future. What about the rest of Oakland Avenue?


It has often be said, that a look at the past provides a view of the future. As a city planner, whenever involved, I have tried to disprove that saying.


However, as I observe changes in various communities, the underlying traditions and past community logic here usually dominates the idea of newness. Like cosmetics, the overlay of newness wears thin.


The oldest cities in Europe and now some in Asia maintain their ancientness while contrasting tradition with modern innovations.


Florence, Italy displays the most modern of sculptures in front of the opera house, a contemporary design, a solar energy tree, colorful and innovative. It is high and impressive, designed to collect solar energy to provide for street light at night. This is meant to be a prototype.


German cities have developed districts that exclude cars and most things function and are accessible, just a couple of feet away, unlike Shorewood's “two feet away,” most things in these areas must be accessed on foot.


Fewer innovations are found in American cities than abroad. Shorewood continues with its traditional prototypes, an underground parking element, with shops at street level and apartments or condos above, proving the persistence of perhaps outworn community logic.


So that's the way the rest of Oakland Avenue, is pretty much going to look like in the future and in conformance with the objectives of the “master plan.”


Cars are not to be excluded here nor focal points developed to give reason for walking, nor any solar collection innovations injected into new projects.


Linear ground level shopping along heavily trafficked streets is going to retain the economic difficulties of “shop-spread” lined up along the street and in many cases no shops across the street which could add a bit of cluster effect, if it were possible to cross the street.


It is easier to extend the past into to future for real estate and financial reasons than to attempt to gradually create a new future, especially when lacking a basis for determining objectives to guide us into the future.


Not without sympathetic criticism, Oakland Avenue, at least for the next decade or two, will be more of the same. Even without any ancient elements to contrast with, it will never-the-less, be more past than future.

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