Versus! – Downtowns: Minneapolis vs Toronto

Minneapolis:

Downtown Minneapolis. 1000 foot scale.
Downtown Minneapolis. 1000 foot scale.

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Downtown Minneapolis. 500 foot scale.
Downtown Minneapolis. 500 foot scale.

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Downtow
Downtown Minneapolis.  100 foot scale.  Note that Minneapolis’s Skyway system is not shown at all on Google Maps.

Short Block Index ~3.  For the purposes of calculating the SBI, Nicollet Mall counts as a street, because it carries a high volume of pedestrian traffic.  I have chosen not to count the Skyway intersections, because the Skyway system in Minneapolis is not well integrated with the city streets, physically or socially.

Number of businesses* shown at 100 foot scale: 31.

(*businesses of interest to the public, such as hotels, stores, eateries, theatres, and cafes).

The majority of businesses are not shown at the 100 foot scale.  Almost as many (~25) are shown in an area 1/4 the size, at the 50 foot scale:

Downtown Minneapolis. 50 foot scale.
Downtown Minneapolis. 50 foot scale.

However, as many of these businesses are oriented exclusively towards the Skyway corridors, the street itself is somewhat lacking in commercial vibrancy:

Note
Note that although busses stop all along the right side, there is only one tiny tiny roofed structure at the very end.  Note also the absence of pipe bollards and zebra striping.  And note that not a single commercial enterprise opens onto this section of South 7th Street.

“The safety of the street works best […] where people are using and most enjoying the city streets voluntarily […]”

“The basic requisite […] is a substantial quantity of stores and other public places sprinkled along the sidewalks of a district; enterprises and public places that are used by evening and night must be among them especially.  Stores, bars, and restaurants, as the chief examples, work in several different and complex ways to abet sidewalk safety”

~Jane Jacobs, p.36, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”

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Toronto:

Downtown Toronto. 2000 foot scale.
Downtown Toronto. 2000 foot scale.  Note the metro stations.  Streetcar stations ( and several metro stations) not shown at this scale.
Satellite view of the same area.
Satellite view of the same area.

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Toronto - Scale 1000 ft
Downtown Toronto. 1000 foot scale.  Streetcar stations not shown.
Satellite view of the same area.
Satellite view of the same area.

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Downtown Toronto. 500 foot scale.
Downtown Toronto. 500 foot scale.  Now we can see both the metro and the streetcar stations.
Satellite view of the same area.
Satellite view of the same area.

.

Downtown Toronto. 100 foot scale.
Downtown Toronto. 100 foot scale.  Note that the underground Path system is partly shown.

Small Block Index ~3.  Intersections of the Path underground system are not included in this index, although – compared to Minneapolis’s Skyway – the Path system is much more integrated into the street life of the city.

Number of businesses shown at 100 foot scale: 43.

Again, the majority of businesses are not shown at the 100 foot scale.  Almost as many (~30) are shown in an area 1/4 the size, at the 50 foot scale:

Downtown Toronto. 50 foot scale.
Downtown Toronto. 50 foot scale.

.

Bay St & Wellington St

Note the absence of pipe bollards, but the presence of zebra striping (at some intersections).

King St & York St

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Category :: Minneapolis :: Toronto

Short Block Index :: 3 :: 3  [c.f. 27 for Kobe Motomachi 5-Chome]

– – walkscore.com stats:

Walk Score :: “96” :: 100

Bike Score :: 93 :: 55

# restaurants shown at 100 foot scale :: 12 :: 14

# results for “coffee” at 500 foot scale :: 37 :: 46

# results for “Starbucks” at 500 foot scale :: 7 :: 26

Caveats:

Walkscore.com fails to account for time-dependent accessibility (i.e. opening and closing times).

The walkscore for Minneapolis appears to rely largely on the many businesses which are accessible exclusively via the Skyway system.  Given that most of these businesses are barely open outside of working hours, their utility to neighborhood residents is actually quite limited.

Similarly, the walkscore for Toronto is inflated, relative to Japanese cities, given the extremely limited number of 24 hour businesses.

In terms of actual pedestrian friendliness, Minneapolis is nowhere near a 96 grade.  As we saw in StreetView, there are streets in downtown Minneapolis with zero commercial enterprises.  If we follow Jane Jacobs, we would expect these areas to be distinctly unsafe:

“The buildings on a street equipped to handle strangers and to insure the safety of both residents and strangers, must be oriented to the street.  They cannot turn their backs or blank sides on it and leave it blind.”

Winner:

Toronto

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