Monday, June 04, 2007

The Foot of Beale: An Alternative

The foot of Beale, at the cobblestones and the Mississippi, is beautiful.

Between the the Mississippi, the bluff, the cobblestones and other man-made details,

it has a very distinctive feel, a Memphis feel -- muddy and green, rough and rusty, classic.

It conjures the past

but creates no more a barrier to the future than Huckleberry Finn does.

Yet the foot of Beale is empty. No people.

Perhaps that's because:
  1. there's no access. It's hard as hell to get from Beale Street, Tom Lee Park, Jefferson Davis Park, the Visitor's Center and Mud Island.

  2. other than the River, nothing else is there.
So how do we solve the first problem, no access? By creating access.
  1. We build stairs descending from the crosswalk at Beale and Riverside.

  2. We provide a Bluffwalk alternate route that, instead of taking you to Riverside, takes you to stairs we build descending to the cobblestones.

  3. We remove the parking lot between the buildings on Front and Riverside. Memphis parking lots do to walkers what Southern prison movie swamps do to bloodhounds -- lose them.

    Presently Gayoso empties into that parking lot...

    and runs straight into a lamppost.

  4. We build stairs at the foot of Gayoso down to Riverside, that lead to a crosswalk, that lead to the cobblestone stairs. Presently you have to climb down an embankment to Riverside, then cross Riverside without a crosswalk. If you make it this far, there are some nice stairs to take you to the cobblestones and the River.
We solved the first problem, you are at the River. What about the second problem: what do you do when you get there?
  1. You walk through, continuing the Bluffwalk or beginning the Wolf River Greenway. If you're coming from the Visitors Center/Jefferson Davis, you walk through on the way to Tom Lee Park; and vice versa, if you're coming through from Tom Lee Park. This might require some ingenious method of pointing walkers from the stairs descending from Tom Lee to the ramp ascending to Jefferson Davis, without modifying the cobblestones, but we can do it.

  2. Go to Mud Island. One of the great ideas brought forward in the last 30 years is the pedestrian bridge spanning the Wolf River Harbor that Denise Scott Brown proposed 20 years ago.
    This will create a major flow of pedestrians down to the River. Kids love bridges. Never, ever underestimate the power of children to enliven Downtown. Here's a photo of a pedestrian drawbridge in the Netherlands.

  3. Go to a restaurant, cafe, riverboat or other vendor moored or located at the foot of Beale. Yes, it's been tried before, it's time to try it again. But if tried again, it can't be tried without fixing the access problem. If it's hard to get there, people will not only not use it, they won't even know about it.

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Anonymous john said...

One thing sticks out about that Center City Plan that I had never considered before. Jefferson Davis Park, Confederate Park, and Court Square run parallel to one another. Davis Park also runs in line with the Cobblestones and Tom Lee Park. Connecting all these with green landscaped walkways shouldn't be too hard.

12:14 PM  
Blogger Todd said...

We have to have a boat dock down there, whether is it is a $30 million or something cheap. There needs to be a dock that sells gas, beer, etc to attract boaters to the water.

5:50 PM  

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