Highland Park is a small and quaint town located in Central New Jersey right outside of the city of New Brunswick. One who lives in Highland Park has access to almost any needs of an average day including a supermarket, pharmacy, banks, post office and restaurants but any big shopping or more unique errands or activities would require going outside of the town. This town has many good elements of a walkable neighborhood because it is small enough to walk from place to place, from one’s house to the park, and from the park to the bakery. In fact, the farthest walk from one point of town to another is only about Thirty to forty-minute walk. This type of walkable neighborhood would fall in line with “Contemporary Urban Planning’s” description of the neighborhood when it says, “A neighborhood is a unit that matches the daily scale of most people’s lives… Typically, the neighborhood plan will provide for residences, a school, shopping facilities for goods, playgrounds, and perhaps small parks” (p.185). Highland Park is comparable to New Urbanism’s Andres Duany’s view of the neighborhood with elements of houses close to one another and to the street, and very walkable and narrow two-lane streets which do not encourage many automobiles to drive.
An example in the town of good urban design in terms of placement of town structures, is the proximity of the local high school to the public library. Highland Park High School is located on what locals call “the north side” on a residential street angled to face the street corner instead of the homes across the street. It directly faces the local public library and there are cross walk-like lines on the street connecting the pedestrian traffic flow from the high school to the library. This is very good urban design of a neighborhood because the lay out and placement of these two structures encourages high school students to go to the library after school. They can go to the library to study, research, check out a book and the library has just become a safe and educational place for local kids to hang out and make their way to after school. The closeness of these two buildings and the easy walkable route to get from one to the other is a great urban design plan of a town that will have positive effects on its residents.
On the flip side, there is a major flaw in a building placement in highland park just as one enters the town from New Brunswick. As a car crosses the bride connecting the town of Highland Park to the city of New Brunswick, one is met with a colorful glass sign that says “Highland Park “on it, welcoming all who are about to enter the town. Unfortunately, it is difficult to appreciate the beauty of this sign because right behind it there is a big brick apartment building with a small parking lot of cars in front of it. This eye sore is accompanied by a cement wall on the other side of the street going up the hill into Highland Park which was painted in a cute design in an attempt to hide the ugliness of this introduction to the town. This is a bad mistake in urban design because this is the first thing one encounters when driving or walking into highland park from the New Brunswick end of it. A person will not see the lovely Donaldson park, bustling main street or the pretty but small houses and tree lined blocks. Instead they are met by an ugly apartment building and a crumbling cement wall as their first impression to this small and quint town of Highland Park, NJ.
Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning. 10th ed. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.