Tale of Two Cities: Stamford

The downtown looks like something out of a bad science fiction movie. Many of the new buildings have only one door on the street and then 1,000 feet of blank walls –they look like modern versions of ancient Troy or Jerusalem, with their massive, ugly walls. Others have no doors, just 3 levels of concrete parking garages.

Four Stamford Plaza, 107 Elm Street
Four Stamford Plaza, 107 Elm Street –ramparts of concrete parking protect the tenants

By day, few people walk along the streets –nothing to do. At night, the streets become empty canyons, like something out of Star Wars. The streets feel spooky and dangerous.

Macy's Broad St, Stamford
Macy’s Broad St, Stamford

These buildings look like fortresses from the Maginot Line, meant to keep out invading armies. Maybe the purpose was like the forts of the wild west —allow the Wells Fargo stage couch to quickly dash in, and keep out those undesirables. Many are offices for bankers and hedge fund workers to drive in from the mansions of the green hinderland.

Deloitte office East Main & Elm
Deloitte Office, East Main & Elm –fortress for accountants and tax advisors

Or stores for the wives and kids of the rich locals to drive in —and walls to keep out the rif-raf. Downtown gated communities.

This is more than bad —it is ugly.

There is no excuse —these fortresses were built years after Jane Jacobs and other urban experts had proven that cities need life on the streets in order to be liveable. That means shops and stores having doors and windows unto the street.

The problem was recognized 19 years ago. See the NY Times article below. But little has changed.

Stamford Reinvents Its Downtown Once Again

By DAVID W. DUNLAP   Published: January 5, 1997


Local leaders now envision the city center as a 24-hour-a-day hub, luring more financial giants like Swiss Bank, providing hundreds of new apartments and offering ever livelier choices in dining, shopping and entertainment.

They believe Stamford can cultivate a vibrant pedestrian environment, too, having learned from the urbanistic mistake in the last boom of setting new buildings atop parking garages, which created a barren, fortress-like streetscape

[this editor added the bold font]

Below are some more photos from Google Maps to show that this place still is disfunctional, anti-human, and ugly.

201 Tresser Blvd --Purdue Pharma office, Stamford
201 Tresser Blvd –Purdue Pharma office.
Broad St. Stamford CT --local campus of UConn on the left.  Only one small door, no function for the windows. Target store is behind the brick-concrete wall.
Broad St. –local campus of UConn on the left. Only one small door, no function for the windows. Target store is behind the brick-concrete wall, far right.

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