Sunday, April 20, 2014

The city at night

Night time economy in Hoboken, NY - photo Tarah Hodgkinson

GUEST BLOG: Tarah Hodgkinson is a senior researcher in the Integrated Risk Assessment Instrument Research Group in Vancouver, Canada. She is a member of the International CPTED Association and a certified SafeGrowth instructor. She is completing Ph.D in criminology at Simon Fraser University. 

On a recent trip to New Jersey, I had the opportunity to discuss the CPTED concept called activity generators with a local community group. I was reminded of the distinct differences between day time and night time economies. Activity generators (ways of activating spaces for legitimate or positive uses that put eyes on the street) are easy to support during the day time. Examples include food trucks, scheduling outdoor sports games and encouraging community fairs. However, I struggled to think of examples of night time activity generators until I went walking around in the city at night.

Hoboken night time economy

After dinner with friends in Hoboken, we headed back to the train station. Hoboken has a beautiful main street that was bustling. When I think of activity generators for night time, I often think of bars or pubs that might attract people, but not always with positive results. While Hoboken had a few pubs, it also had outdoor fruit markets and late night coffee shops. Legitimately activating their main street, Hoboken businesses encouraged non-drinkers to use the space as well.

Night time strollers in the High Line park - photo Tarah Hodgkinson
The following night another friend took us to the New York High Line. As mentioned in The future of sidewalks, the highline is a well-lit, pedestrian friendly public space that encourages legitimate day and night activity. Through proper lighting, lots of seating, close proximity to homes and shops and incredible design, the High Line draws both tourists and residents alike.

Winter evenings in Vancouver?

While both were great examples of activity generators at night, as a Canadian, I couldn’t help but wonder what to do when the snow falls.

Upon returning home to Vancouver, I walked by Robson Square. In the centre of downtown, surrounded by commercial buildings, this square is largely deserted after five o’clock at night. However, this space is activated with events throughout the summer and is transformed into an ice rink in the winter. Skating takes place both day and night at Robson square with live music, local vendors and tons of people embracing the night and the cold at the same time!

Evening activities in Vancouver's Robson Square 
The possibility for night time activity generators are abundant. We need only look at spaces where people feel safe exploring their neighbourhoods both day and night.

2 Replies so far - Add your comment

  1. Anne MallochApril 22, 2014

    Hi Greg. Great photos and commentary. What time is the ice-rink open until; what times did you take the photos of the rink, the Highline, and the stalls in Hoboken? Are the stalls open until a particular time? and is the Highline safe to walk any time through the night?

    As for Melbourne, al through April the city has been alive and happy til late - midnight easily - with Comedy Festival. The Town Hall is the hub of much of the actions with this year, free buses taking people to performances that are outside the city centre. There have been performances in every available nook and cranny the city can provide. Melbourne is so good at maximising uses for unusual spaces of challenging size (like the coffee shop created in an old telephone exchange cupboard).

    The weather has been kind too which has helped of course.

  2. Thanks Anne, I'll let Tarah Hodgkinson know you appreciated her guest blog. I can't speak for times of the Vancouver photo, but the others were taken after sunset around 9pm.

    Melbourne has free buses to entertainment performances outside the city centre? That's a remarkable gift by the city. What a great way to help activate suburban hotspots. Thanks for the info.


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