Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist

What Makes Madison Such A Good Urban Stage?

Dateline: 10:37 am June 4, 2011 Filed under:

What isn’t happening in Madison this morning? Have a look at these photos and see for yourself.

Stefanos Polyzoides, a founding member of CNU, eloquently pointed out yesterday that we must “access reality through observation.” Well, I observed Madison, and it is real. Everything is going on this morning. People are out and about at the capitol square for the farmers market, on State Street for the classic car show, and generally everywhere, walking, biking and enjoying the city. There is also live music (formal and the busking kind), livestock (cows mooing for the crowd), practitioners of free speech (mostly protesting the current governor), and a general mileu of characters plain and unique.

The farmers market would be quite an event, but the magnificent backdrop of the state capitol sets it apart. The same is true of the classic cars on State Street, which is generally very busy with people on a normal day. The urban design decisions over the years, the creation of public space and the framing of it with private and civic buildings, and the ability to tame the automobile, are the reason so many people enjoy special events and daily life in Madison. There is a “there” there that doesn’t exist everywhere.

I think those of us at CNU 19 are dutifully impressed. Thank you, Madison, you are putting on a fine show.

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