June 18, 2012 2 Comments
This is the second post in a short series based on my recent trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco by train. With an overnight stop in San Luis Obispo and a weekend in San Francisco, there were some great urbanist and transit lessons to be learned.
Downtown San Luis Obispo is certainly not an urban mecca. The population of the entire city is 45,000, which is just about the same as Downtown LA, but most of that population is outside of SLO’s retail-centric downtown. Regardless, there were some great things in SLO that can and should be taken note of when thinking of Los Angeles.
Similar to State Street in Santa Barbara or Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena, Higuera St. in Downtown SLO is a pedestrian heavy, retail and restaurant-centric boulevard full of both locals and tourists. It was a medium-distance walk from the train station through a residential neighborhood. Higuera Street and the surrounding blocks are a great mix of both historic and modern structures with active businesses that create a lively atmosphere. Bars, restaurants, retail, art galleries, and more are all within walking distance.
At one end of the street is a relatively new retail complex that was designed very well to fit in with the historic neighborhood. The Court Street Mall includes interior walkways and exterior facing retail that seamlessly ties into the neighborhood around it.
Near the center of the retail district, on Higuera is a ROSS Dress For Less. It seems like one of the older stores on the block, and I wonder if the amount of retail and restaurants on this street is a small prophesy of what Broadway in Downtown LA could become, with a ROSS coming in there soon as well.