Wednesday, September 05, 2007

19th Century Version of "New Urbanism"

Went shopping in Valley Junction (Circa 1846) today, the 19th Railroad Stop in southwest Des Moines, Iowa that once hosted 26 passenger trains per day. Commuter trains, street cars, and long distance sleepers all called on Valley Junction, making this neighborhood a thriving competitor to the central business district of the city. Restaurants, boarding houses, fraternal halls, banks and dry goods stores all kept the economy humming here.

The buildings have some fine brickwork, a planned amount of congestion (giving one the impression that the area is very busy, which it is), and a wide variety of shops and stores, all within a short walk of each other. The area is still going strong (though more functional than charming, in many cases), and worth a trip to look at the railcentric layout and fine 19th century building technique.

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