Shorewood is made up of residents who chose to live here for one reason or another. Very few live here from birth until death as in many small towns still today.
They way people live in these circumstances determine the way particular communities develop.
Few if any suburbs develop and grow over long periods of time in the same manner as small towns, even though, if after development they take on many of the appearances of small towns.
Without going into the tendencies that small towns have for becoming communities, we must take many of the natural tendencies of community development and insert them into the process of what is referred to as urban renewal, which includes neighborhood or community renewal.
Without the basic knowledge of what community is, it becomes difficult if not impossible to artificially direct community renewal. Subdivision development is the result of that lack of knowledge.
Fundamental to that understanding is one basic unit that might be referred to as “clustering.” Subdivision housing is linear because it is related to the street and living units are spread out because of the availability of the farm land on which the development takes place. This is the opposite of clustering.
Once we know about the characteristic of clustering, it easily observed in naturally forming small towns but is usually absent in suburbs.
In the formalized processes of urban renewal especially in the redevelopment of commercial districts, the attempt to develop these areas on a linear basis almost always results in failure. A good example of clustering can be seen in the Glendale shopping development.
Clustering is basic and characteristic to Glendale.
The redevelopment of Time Square in New York was aided by the fact that it is a square. Like a town square it is a place we commercial and social clustering takes place. Glendale tends to reproduce the characteristics of the small town square.
The so-called Magnificent Mile in Chicago is not really a mile and although the term mile may indicate a line, this area has evolved by the clustering of significant businesses on both sides of the street, most within easy walking distances.
This urban scale of clustering is not possible in small towns nor even in most large suburbs.
Basic to the redevelopment of commercial districts then, is the way by which we introduce the principle of clustering. Once this principle is understood, it can then be easily designed into new projects creating conditions and the atmosphere of the small town square.