Shadow (dariaphoebe) wrote,

Don't know where it goes, but it's home to me and I walk alone

Is Oakland going to be the next downtown? It was mentioned at the Boulevard of the Allies ribbon-cutting that Oakland is the 3rd largest business district in the state, and it's long been true that it's the 3rd largest endpoint for transit trips in the state (after Center City Philadelphia and Downtown Pittsburgh).

Being the next downtown is not necessarily a good thing. Like so many town centers in the state, the first two have suffered from the suburbanization of the state. Storefronts have become empty; Upper floors of non-office space have been all but abandoned, and sidewalks "roll up" in early evening, leaving the area feeling empty until morning rush.

With Downtown Pittsburgh's push to being back residents, grocery stores, and amenities as well as the growth of the Cultural District, after nearly 40 years of steady decline, downtown is often (but not always, and not all through it) alive at night.

At the same time, as hammered home during last night's final night of Ceremony, the decline of Oakland has marked the decline of a lot of other areas of life here. With the demise of the Upstage, Oakland's club scene is gone. The Oakland Beehive is long gone, but after many years the space finally hosts a cell phone store and American Apparel. There are still a number of restaurants which stay open late thanks to the captive resident population, at least, and with the university population there are still people around at all hours. But there seems to be a definite trend of Oakland moving in the direction of every other "downtown" in the state, becoming just the host of office workers during the day, and dead at night.

It's not too late, but if things are going to change, some effort to harness development to cater to the beyond 9-5 crowd will need to be undertaken. Sadly, starting down that path seems likely to require investment not available in a market in which money supplies are tight. This may be a challenge which ultimately fails.

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