It's officially winter, and it's officially after Christmas.
For many cities, that means entering into a period of slumber, when residents stay off the city streets and away from public areas. People would rather stay confined in their toasty homes, cities figure, so why try to lure them out into the streets?
Well, there are lots of reasons cities should try to do exactly that: maintaining or creating a sense of community, boosting business revenue, attracting visitors, etc.
Indeed, as Jay Walljasper, a senior fellow at the Project for Public Spaces, points out in this newsletter article, cities increasingly don't have a choice:
In an increasingly globalized economy, where businesses as well as workers have more say in where they locate, winter cities can no longer afford to appear lifeless for a quarter of the year. Many people now choose places to live on the basis of vital local culture, and civic leaders increasingly understand that making public places that are inviting all year, not just when it is warm and sunny, is essential for a dynamic, prosperous community. Successful visions for winter cities include showcasing numerous opportunities for public activity throughout the winter months (not just during the brief holiday season), focusing on local identity and character and, of course, providing an inviting, vibrant physical environment.
Cities need to create reasons for people to come outdoors -- and a festive, warm, inviting environment for them once they get there. Walljasper's piece (including his lament against skywalks) is interesting and worth a look.