Use the Alleys

Probably my most favorite place in the Lehigh Valley is the corner of North Sitgreaves and Lehns Court in downtown Easton. Ever since high school I’ve always wanted to fix up the building on the corner of that alley with the yellow facade across from Phyllis. The Lehns Court alley is a really beautiful spot, despite being dense with bars now, and North Sitgreaves is also very nice.

One thing I think would make Sitgreaves even better though is paving the alley with bricks the same way they did with the alleys on Bank Street. I’ve seen lots of people using the Sitgreaves alley to get back and forth between the restaurants on Ferry Street and Centre Square. It would be cool if the city gave Sitgreaves the Bank Street treatment from Ferry all the way up to Bushkill.

In general, the idea of upgrading city alleys from gritty undefined spaces to well-landscaped pedestrian walkways is appealing to me.

One of my favorite Michael Molovinsky posts was about the makeshift lunch spots and hangouts that used to be in the alleys around Allen High School. Encouraging people to buy up small alley garages and turn them into shops and restaurants is an awesome idea that probably wouldn’t fly in today’s fussier regulatory climate, but maybe blogging and politicking can persuade elected officials that the older generation had this right.

If you walk around Easton alleys (and Allentown, and Bethlehem), you’ll see a lot of underused space – garages and parking lots that are not really considered viable for development, since they’re not easily accessible by car. But maybe there is an opportunity to change that by identifying a few especially scenic alleys, investing in some proper landscaping, and coordinating with developers to turn underused parcels and garages into pedestrian-sized commercial spaces.

Comments

  1. Gene says:

    Easton’s use of the streets and alleys around Centre Square has been nothing short of brilliant. Another city would have been stymied by the challenging traffic circle pattern.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      One thing I’ve wondered about is whether the parking spaces in the circle were always there? At multiple different events now I’ve seen the city cone them off and let people use the parking areas for tents and other uses. In the future, it would be awesome if they just paved over all those spots and turned them into big pedestrian plazas. You wouldn’t be losing that many parking spaces, and you’d gain the opportunity to create a really well-designed public space that would boost real estate prices in Centre Square.

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