Last week I went to the Cezanne exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum with my friend Sue Weil. We planned to eat dinner at Cheuvront’s beforehand, stop at Giant for coffee and dessert, then head over to the museum, all without a car. This is a perfect example of a walkable node in our city. We were able to make a nice evening out of this little spot in Phoenix without having to drive to every destination.
This walkable node was hand-stitched by me and Sue because we’re in the know that both Cheuvront’s and Giant are within walking distance of the museum. However, this connection is not super apparent to the casual observer yet. So what we have is a start, the bare bones of a walkable node. To make this node truly come to life, we need more shops, more restaurants, more coffee shops and bars to connect to each other on the way to the major destination in the area, in this case the Phoenix Art Museum. And they can’t be connected by a car either, they need to be connected in a way that is walkable.
Another possible urban connection in the area is with the Burton Barr Library and Giant Coffee. It’s conceivable that someone could park at the library, or take the light rail there, borrow a few books, walk down to Giant and peruse them over a good cup of coffee. And if that person is anything like me, it would seem natural to saunter over to Bunky Boutique to try on some great local fashions. This multiple destination experience sans a car is what will bring life to our urban core.
You might be able to tell that I think Giant Coffee is a crux point in the area. It’s a place to hang out, a place of rest, a place to contemplate and enjoy yourself. One thing I noticed about hanging out at Giant is the great view to the museum. Having frequented the coffee shop several times a week for the past few weeks, this view of the museum has seeped into my subconscious. This may sound a little presumptive, but being able to see the Phoenix Art Museum on a regular basis like that, due to my propensity to hang out at Giant, has encouraged me to frequent the museum. This visual connectivity between one place and another is more important than we think in fostering the urban experience.
Next time you’re planning an evening out, I urge you to find and stitch key destinations into an urban experience. Right now, it’s still a difficult thing to do, something you have to plan and think about ahead of time, but the more we cultivate these urban experiences, and show that yes, we Phoenicians are craving walkability and connectivity, the more they will crop up all around us. Until soon, we’ll be leaving our cars at a park and ride and bringing people and life to the streets of Phoenix.
What are some other walkable nodes in the city? Leave me a comment and let me know and I’ll write about them!
Photo Credit: A photo of Giant Coffee and Bunky Boutique from across first street. Photo by Taz Loomans.Tags: blooming rock, Bunky Boutique, Burton Barr Library, Cheuvront's, giant coffee, phoenix, phoenix art museum, taz loomans, urban core, visual connectivity, walkable node, walking