Many older small cities have river or bay fronts, because people settled in locations where they could transport their goods by boat or barge.
Waterfronts were thriving commercial hubs where people gathered to exchange goods and ideas creating busy places. When railroads carried goods more cheaply than they could be shipped, commerce and people moved away from the waterfronts and the downtown areas. The automobile and cheap gas led to malls and suburban sprawl. Downtowns were abandoned by retail and residents.
Placemaking offers cities a vitalization strategy that breathes new life into historic downtowns and waterfronts. Placemaking is not a new idea. It originated in the 1960s, when visionaries like Jane Jacobs and William Whyte offered groundbreaking ideas about designing cities that catered to people, not just to cars and shopping centers.
Numerous cities have used a Placemaking approach successfully to increase the quality of life, property values, real estate tax revenue, tourism, and consumer spending. Some examples are: Chattanooga, Providence, Paducah, Charlestown, Ashville, and Santa Fe. Studies of comparable cities to Bradenton are available on the Realize Bradenton website.
Realize Bradenton and its Cultural Partners, working with the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority, envision:
Downtown Bradenton and the Riverwalk as a vibrant, walkable setting with housing, restaurants and a rich array of cultural amenities and activities—a vital, creative, and economic hub – open 24/7.
2019 GOAL from the Realize Bradenton Cultural Master Plan
We believe that a place that attracts people attracts investment.
This is Waterplace Park in Providence, Rhode Island where people are gathered for a major Waterfire public art event that engages 400,000 residents and tourists a year.
For more information on Placemaking, see “What is Placemaking?” by the Project for Public Spaces.