You Can Always Go -- Downtown! But Would You?

Holiday shopping always gets me to thinking about what the downtown areas of other towns might be like, or might offer that would interest YOU in going downtown, as Petula used to sing. Specifically, is your downtown area revitalized, is it someplace you would go for seasonal shopping? movies? restaurants or bars? or do you avoid ever going there? Is it growing or declining? How does your local downtown business association do with event-planning, etc.?

Last weekend was the Downtown Christmas Stroll in several of the “cities” (if you want to call these overgrown cowtowns that) in this state. I attended two of these events. One was severely lackluster & the other was heartily attended, creative & just a boatload of fun, which I attribute to better planning by the downtown association as well as a distinct pride in the downtown area by the residents. In my town, we are much more effective at planning summer events (concerts, food fairs, craft expositions, Farmer’s Markets) downtown, which are well-attended, and I have to say that there exist very few vacancies in any downtown buildings. On the downside, we don’t have a really good downtown hotel and are in desperate need of one! And all the movie theaters have moved to the mall locations, sadly.

Tell me all about your downtown, where all the lights are bright–possibly.


We don’t really have a downtown. Our towns are small enough that there is the green and surrounding shops and that’s it.

In my hometown, however, I lived downtown and it was considered lower-class. Uptown was the place to be, where all the shops and the richer people were.

Portland has a very vibrant downtown. Lots of good stores, movie theaters, restaurants, etc. Mrs. Blather has a knitting store downtown. We get lots of tourists and business travelers because we are near one of the better hotels.

Drawbacks are lots of vagrants and street kids who are pretty annoying. They sleep in doorwells, beg, urinate in the parking garage, etc.

Toronto has about fifty thousand people living in skyscraper condos in its downtown, and more moving in each year. This has led to grocery stores returning to the downtown area, now that it isn’t just office buildings and all of the population doesn’t go home to the 'burbs each night.

Some downsides to Toronto’s downtown: lots of beggars, and we’re hitting the limits of available inbound electricity transmission. And we need more streetcar lines.

They are working hard on revitalizing (or vitalizing, actually) Des Moines and having some nice successes, but they have all the freeway on and off ramps so screwed up that I hate having to go there. You never know how you’ll get in or out on a given day. Pity, because they’ve opened a number of interesting boutique shops and galleries I’d like to visit.

I love downtown Chicago. The Magnificent Mile lights up, has a parade to celebrate the lights, etc.

I live in Alrington Heights, though. It’s a nice downtown, and they decorate very nicely. If you go down there on a winter evening, there are usually lots of shoppers and such…very holiday-ish!

I think that a lot of Chicago 'burbs lay off the huge outlay, as they think most people will Petula-Clark it downtown anyway.

LOVE downtown Chicago.


Hell yeah! I LOVE going to ‘dahntahn’ Pittsburgh. Especially the Strip District, with all the neat little ethnic food shops and restaurants. Or over to Point State Park.

Kauffmann’s is fun to visit as well.

Well, as you might imagine, downtown Cumberland is pretty tiny. It’s in the revitalization process, though. It has some really good hole-in-the-wall restaurants and bars with surprisingly good food. Our downtown just (by which I mean in the last year) got a Daily Grind coffee shop. There is one old movie theater that sometimes shows classic movies (The Mouse That Roared, It’s A Wonderful Life) for pretty cheap.
There are a few independently-owned boutique-type stores, a Value City, a couple of Dollar Stores, a couple of antiques stores. Of course, nothing can compete wtih the Super Wal Mart five miles away.

Downtown is very nicely decorated for Christmas. That makes it pleasant to walk around in, at least.

Our downtown is quite nice. It never deteriorated in the first place, since it’s a smaller city and there are lots of college students right there to keep it going (thanks kids!). It’s now your basic mix of boutiques, older useful stores, restaurants, and gifty places. And bars, and music stores. The only used bookstores are there, and the greatest hardware store in town.

There are farmer’s markets every week and downtown events pretty often, and it’s pretty well done. I go to the summer sidewalk sales, but not the fancy restaurant tasting (on Sundays) or the Christmas preview (before Thanksgiving) or the parades (no parking). It’s a good place to go during a date with my husband, though.

Our downtown is freakin’ fantastic. Tons of local shops, restaurants, bars, etc…

It’s actually a little too good. Good luck finding a parking spot unless it’s…umm…no, wait, there’s never parking.

Downtown Houston is crapola, and has been for decades. It does have the opera house, symphony, and Alley theater. There are some clubs, too, for young people who like to overdress and overdrink. They converted the old convention center into a multi-use space, with a Hard Rock, and a very nice (and usually sparsely-attended) movie theater. There’s one major department store (I think it’s still there), and a little mall. That’s about it.

After hours, downtown Houston was a complete ghost town back in the 70s and early 80s. With the oil bust, it was even a ghost town during business hours. I don’t know what the building occupancy is now, but it’s considerably better than it was in the early 90s.

For the most part, Houstonians have better things to do than go downtown.

Downtown Denver has revitalized as far as restaurants and nightclubs, though that’s based just a little away from downtown proper, in lower downtown, near the ball park. I wouldn’t go to either area to go shopping though.

Downtown Boise has been revitalized in recent years (a far cry from the bleak wasteland of abandoned warehouses and empty lots it was in the early 1980s) and has become a more vibrant hotspot with an active night life. There are a few high-rises (though the tallest building is only 20 stories), so there’s a “big city” feel in the area. There are hotels and convention centers and plenty of specialty shops and restaurants. The Idaho Steelheads hockey team has its arena downtown, which also serves as a concert venue. The zoo, several museums and other attractions are located in or around the downtown area. The Boise State University campus is in close proximity to downtown as are the cities two largest parks, which both flank the Boise River. Traffic for the most part is managed well. There are a few beggars and other unsavory folks just like you’d find in any city, but I’ve never felt unsafe or insecure in the downtown area, and there are no slums or ghettos to speak of.

Now if they could just find someone with enough financial clout and stability to complete the oft-mothballed “Boise Tower” project that has left a big gaping hole in the middle of the city for the past five years.

My small town’s downtown is what I’d describe as "quaint’. There are multiple antique shops, some art galleries, specialty clothing stores, a few trendy restaurants, a music (as in instrument) store, a cooking store, a book store, a bike shop and some dive bars.

I go there to eat, but rarely shop downtown. I don’t need any antiques (I have my own junk, thank you very much) and the specialty shop are overpriced and geared more at tourists.

Me too! And they have caroling at Millennium Park on Fridays, now. So festive! And the huuuuuuge Christmas trees and wreathes everywhere. I love Christmastime in the city.

My “downtown” is Washington D.C., and I love it – in any season. :slight_smile:

My best friend, his wife, their little boy, and I have a tradition where we all go downtown each Christmas season to see the White House and Capitol trees. This year we’re going on the 16th, and I’m so looking forward to it!

If Las Cruces has a downtown, there ain’t much there. I think I go into the area every few weeks to head to either the post office or a used book store, and that’s about it.

When I was in Albuquerque, I almost never went to the downtown. Heck, I rarely went more than a mile west of I-25 (downtown is on the west side of the railroad tracks.) Not that there’s much wrong with the downtown area, but there weren’t a lot of stores or anything I needed to go to and I hate the parking. Growing up in a part of town that has lots and lots of parking lots, I’ve always hated parking on the street and parallel parking.

Longview has a small downtown with little in it. Mostly the only reasons you’d want to go downtown is if you work there or need to do something at one of the government buildings. There are some small stores, such as antique and furniture stores, but nothing I’d be very interested in. I hate it because it’s actually a nice place to walk around, and the out-of-towners find the brick roads to be quite a novelty, but there’s not much of a reason to go there. Most of the big shopping places are in the Pine Tree area, especially on the loop. Yeah, good luck walking around there…

Tallahassee’s downtown is mainly government office buildings, banks, offices and the places where the employees of same go to eat overpriced food and buy suits. Parking is horrendous. All the places you want to go are outside the downtown core. The majority of the popular eateries and all the grocery stores and shopping are on the way into or out of downtown, at one of two malls, or in other areas of the city entirely. The strip across from FSU is where drunk students hang out in clubs and bars and fast food joints. That’s avoided by nearly everyone over 30.

We’ve lived here for 8 1/2 years, and we have never, ever been downtown for anything but to pass it by. There’s no reason to get out of the car.

I wonder if we might be neighbors… The Christmas Stroll in Bozeman was rather disappointing, compared to previous years, but I think overall, it’s still pretty worthwhile. But downtown never was the real center of the town, here: That would be the university.