Monday, December 17, 2012

Town Squares as Social Spaces

Usually when traveling, I'll aim for the old downtown squares or similar social spaces. Savannah, Georgia, has a beautiful system of small town squares with a village green atmosphere. Philadelphia also has a lush square system. Rittenhouse Square is one of my favorites. I'll take Manhattan's parks and squares, too.

In the Southwest, traces of Spanish and Mexican rule are very much in evidence. The scale of the Spanish squares is excellent. As in Santa Fe, and San Antonio, there's a relatively small provincial governor's palace, a Catholic church, eateries, general stores, and friendly central park space in the middle; sometimes with attached presidio that garrisoned a company of soldiers in lieu of modern police. You can see it in the French (and Spanish) Quarter of New Orleans, also. Contrast this with mono-Anglo rule, whereby a courthouse squats right in the middle of the old town square: those on the peripheries cannot see across to the other side, but the courthouse judge can see all sides of the square from his seat of power. I prefer the Spanish style for its greater openness and versatility as a social space. Add a fountain and trees, and you have a friendly, comfortable social space in daytime.

Today's Rune: Partnership.


the walking man said...

God knows it's been a long time since i have been to a place where you could just be walking along, find a park bench, sit and take in your surroundings. *sigh*

jodi said...

Erik, I adore town square spaces and was pleased to recently note that Alpena has really added to theirs. It's a totally charming space with seating, a fountain, and views of old and cool buildings. Very historical!

Adorably Dead said...

I love Chestertown's Square. :p