An Urban Planner's Perspective on Valentine’s Day

A well-designed city--one that offers bridges, fountains and parks-- should foster romance.

I’m still new to this blogging thing. It never occurred to me that Valentine’s Day would be a great day to talk about romance in the city. Luckily, I follow some writers who weren’t nearly as slow-witted. Links are provided below.

A well-designed downtown, or a well-designed new urbanism place, is full of nooks and crannies in which one can find and nurture romance. I recently heard of a young couple who had a first date in a historic downtown of a small community. After dinner, they took a short walk on a bicycle path to a restored truss bridge over a scenic river, where they leaned against the railing and talked for hours. When the young man later proposed, he presented his bride-to-be with a framed photo of the bridge. I just don’t see the same happy ending if they had dined at a chain restaurant and then walked along a sidewalk to a freeway overpass.

The subject got me to thinking about the most romantic urban places I’d visited. Of course, Europe offers marvelous locations, the Venetian waterfront at dusk, the foot of the Eiffel Tower, and a path in St. James Park in London. My town, Petaluma, offers a view across the Petaluma River. But my favorite is a fountain in Chicago. A path behind the waterfall allows a quiet place for conversation and canoodling in the midst of a bustling city.

But don’t take my word for it. Look at what Kaid Benfield and Claire Nelson have to say about romance in the city. They’re more eloquent than me.

And when you next see a design for a new urban improvement, ask yourself whether it provides places for the human interaction needed to grow friendship and romance. It should.

As always, your questions or comments will be appreciated. Please comment below or email me at davealden53@comcast.net. And thanks for reading. 

Dave Alden is a Registered Civil Engineer who has worked on energy and land use projects in California, Oregon, and Washington. He also was the president of a minor league baseball team for a couple of seasons. He currently lives on the west side of Petaluma with his wife and four dogs.  The blog that he writes can be found at http://northbaydesignkit.blogspot.com.  You may also follow him on Twitter at @davealden53.

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