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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Here's How Cleveland's Downtown Business Boom Looks on a Map

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 11:23 AM

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Across the world, planners and economic developers are considering how best to present the commercial interface of city. A new City Observatory report outlines how major metropolitan areas shake out in terms of that very important "sidewalk ballet" of people moving through public places, to quote Jane Jacobs.

The centerpiece of the report is the Storefront Index, which "measures the number and concentration of customer-facing businesses in the nation’s large metropolitan areas."

In sum, Cleveland doesn't fare well relatively, but there's really no way to draw meaningful comparisons between cities. Every red dot represents an individual storefront, and the City Observatory counted 613 businesses in the city's commercial core (three miles from the center of downtown). To wit, that's compared to 1,949 in Baltimore, 1,002 in Cincinnati and 913 in Pittsburgh. Direct comparisons, however, to New York City or Chicago are even less fair. On the other end, St. Louis counts 426 businesses, and Detroit counts only 91.

Obviously, Cleveland's three-mile radius is unique: We have to account for the industrial Flats, most of which isn't as cool as the East Bank right now, and, you know, there's a giant lake just a few blocks north of the city center. Still, the map is an interesting visual.

"The Storefront Index is one indicator of the relative size and robustness of the active streetscape in and around city centers," according to the City Observatory. "Clusters of these quasi-private spaces, which are usually neighborhood businesses, activate a streetscape, both drawing life from and adding to a steady flow of people outside."

View Cleveland's map here, which stretches out to the Elyria and Mentor corners of our metropolitan boundaries. 

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