A part of the metropolitan area of New York City is the spectacular city of Englewood, New Jersey, which has transformed from a colonial town into a populous developed suburb. Some may consider this suburb of New York City an utopian due to its organization, diversity, affluence, and land uses. As I walk throughout the town and the surrounding areas, I notice Englewood is very distinct mainly for its vast commercial area including its downtown region. Additionally Levy in “Contemporary Urban Planning” mentions good urban design must improve conditions, such as walkability, economic development, safety, and aesthetics. Despite the gloomy day attributable to weather conditions in the pictures look past the gray skies and focus on the downtown strip.
Palisades Avenue in Englewood begins with a residential neighborhood leading into its commercial district. Good use of design is the placement of the divide between the two areas with the usage of a rotary circle, which also unites other main streets from other residential communities in Englewood.
Within the traffic circle, they built a monument, as seen in the picture above, to commemorate the WWII soldiers from the City of Englewood which will be seen and remembered by all residents due to its fundamental location. This was a perfect place to give a sense of pride and community to its residents and illustrate our patriotism and significance. As you circle the roundabout, you then leave the world of homes entering the realm of the downtown, which seen in the picture below displays a minimized scope of the strip or locally known as ‘The Ave’.
Briefly observing the main boulevard in the picture, you can get a grasp of the vastness of small and large retails through the width of ‘The Ave’ along with the amount parallel parking and large sidewalks. As I further into the street, there are great examples of mixed and diverse uses of buildings. as well as new and older infrastructure.
Within the above intersection, newer design approaches can be seen with the Chase Bank. It has a contemporary distinct building and color design. Within the design of the building, there is a mixed use approach because office space is available on top of the bank. In addition to the city’s street lighting, a part of this newer development is the additional street lights and crosswalks that improve the already mentioned conditions, such as walkability and safety, for good urban design. Compared to the nearby buildings, a better approach can be taken to enhance the aesthetics of the older buildings. A smaller Latino bodega next door on Williams Street needs to be revived to coincide with the newer development, and although it lacks in aesthetics it fills in the needs of the large Latino population making it a useful asset of the town similarly to the other Latino clothing stores and Colombian restaurants. Just across the street of Chase Bank, another mixed use of the building is present with a barbershop and this time residential space together. Beside the barbershop, a Church can be found which is the only of its kind in the downtown area, which gives the ‘The Ave’ a unique character. While walking up the street even further to the tip of the strip seen in the picture below, I am able to appreciate the diverseness in ethnic foods, retail stores, services, and the residents. Most importantly that I have not mentioned at all is the ease of traffic flow within the downtown. They transition the streets from one-two lanes near turns and seen in the picture side streets are one way so they simplify driving making it flow fluidly while giving an excess amount of parking options including a hidden parking garage on the side.
Although the strip ended above, economic development still continues along the side streets. Businesses make good use of the sides of buildings with advertisements. Also, the City continued the streets with large sidewalks and large, vibrant crosswalks making the ‘The Ave’ and the surrounding streets walk-able and excellent for more economic development, such as on Grand Avenue, so this shows development plans the city has coming.
While walking, I can tell the downtown has been able to fit every ‘walk of life’ of the town so you have to remember that this is all within the mid-section of the suburb surrounded by thousands of residential spaces including houses, estates, public housing, and apartments. Sometimes it is hard to remember or even fathom it is a suburb because of its largeness and what the city has to offer in commercial and residential spaces. Some may consider this an urban area because it does not fit within the rigid image of a suburb. However, I see it as a suburban utopia, where future areas impacted by suburban sprawl, can experience this similar transition or transformation of development.