Monday, August 21, 2017

The First Core Area Plan’s Smooth Journey From Conception to Policy: Part II, July-December 1961 (271)

1. City Council Minutes, July 24
This post continues Post 270 on “the 1961 Core Area Plan’s smooth journey from conception to policy.” The previous post stops with the dramatic and mid-point moment of the formal presentation of the plan to Davis people. This post continues through City Council Adoption in December, 1961.

As with the first post, I try to let the story tell itself.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The First Core Area Plan’s Smooth Journey From Conception to Policy: Part I, January-June 1961 (270)

1. January 5
In reading the 1961 Davis Enterprise recently, I was struck by how matter-of-factly and amiably Davis civic leaders commissioned a planning firm to work up a radical scheme to redevelop a newly invented “core area,” walked that plan through a complex series of public hearings, and anticlimactically adopted it into the Master Plan of the City of Davis by a unanimous City Council vote. Not least of the amazing aspects, virtually all of this happened in the single calendar year of 1961.

The purpose of this two-part post is to depict the tenor or emotional tone of how this process worked, at least to the degree one can understand it from Davis Enterprise reports on it. Put differently, I try here to capture the attitudinal atmosphere of that year.

I am struck, for example, with such aspects as the degree to which civic leaders appear to have agreed on the need for rather radical ideas about a new “core area” and were willing to work together rather than endlessly to bicker.

The 1961 Enterprise coverage of the core area story is rich and exceeds the conventions of length for a single Google blog post. The material does, though, fit reasonably well into two posts. The first six months of 1961 are presented in this post and the second six months in the next post  (#271).

I believe the reports are pretty much self-explanatory and I provide little interpretive comment.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Davis Core Area Plan of 1961: A Moment of Development Audacity in Davis History (269)

 In May of 1961, urban planners Lawrence Livingston and John Blayney presented to Davis citizens a 44 ledger-size page document that: 1) argued the existing Davis downtown was obsolete and should be replaced by a larger "core area;" 2) provided a vision of what should replace it; and, 3) outlined a plan for getting from the first to the second. 

This was a plan for which City officials and a 60 member Davis Core Area Advisory Committee had contracted many months ago. They were receiving what they asked for.

Daunting in its scale and complexity, the plan was nonetheless widely and positively received with upbeat sentiments and the document itself exudes “can do” optimism.  

While it was never implemented wholesale, it did become official policy for a time and parts were implemented. Significantly, it did enlarge and reframe the way Davis people thought about  the "downtown." Not least, these gentlemen introduced the term and concept “core area,” a shift in Davis’ cognitive map that endures.

Be the longer term reception aspects as they may, the features of this document that fascinate me include the very fact it was created and that it was embraced and thought, in its time, to be a wonderful thing. Its place in Davis life of that time exudes audacity.  It was a moment when people still believed that bold and positive development visions were worthwhile and could be carried out.

We do not see this kind of “go get ‘em, we can do it” attitude in city affairs much anymore and so I thought it might be at least a little refreshing to remind ourselves that such a mindset could at least exist. So reminded, perhaps people can be emboldened to think it could happen again.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Downtown Davis Rail Corridor in the Classic Era: A Few Glimpses (268)

Given that we now have an officially named Downtown Davis Rail Corridor,* I thought it might be of interest to bring together a few photographs of some aspects of it from what can be called its “classic era.”
The most familiar and even iconic of such photos have been published several times so I will not repeat many of them here.** Let me strive, instead, for what little new material I can scavenge from my files. I offer seven glimpses with brief explanatory captions.
1. Image 1 is a well known but too nice not to repeat. We are standing northeast of the train depot looking northeast toward 3rd Street crossing in the mid-distance. The building in the center-left is where the current 901-07 3rd building now stands and where the Trackside Center would be. The water tower is also on that site and is estimated to rise almost 50 feet.  (That tower might well have been a sun blocking blight for then bucolic Old East Davis.)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Design Guidelines Historical Error That Fosters the Trackside Debate and the Real Question: What Do We Want There? (267)


1. Overview. In this post I will argue that the brouhaha over Trackside is in part a result of an historical error appearing on pages 74 and 75 of the Davis Downtown and Traditional Neighborhood Design Guildenes (images 1 and 2). Inferences based on that error versus historical accuracy contribute to opposing development decisions.  But beyond such historical/conservation technicalities, the real question is brute policy: “what should be built there, anyway?”

 2. Trackside Proponents. Among other facts supporting their project, Trackside proponents point to the historical fact that Davisville north-south railroad corridor development was of larger scale than in the areas to the east and west. The scale of the proposed Trackside building is therefore simply a continuation of the larger scale of the Downtown Rail Corridor that was created at the founding of Davis and that persisted until not very long ago. Trackside is consistent with, and is in the spirit of, that history, the argument goes.

3.Trackside Opponents. Opponents of Trackside read pages 74 and 75 in the Guidelines (images 1 and 2) as calling for “a transition zone from downtown, from taller buildings to smaller residences . . . .” (Miller, image 3).

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Eleven 1950s-60s Home Movies of Davis Life Filmed By UCD Avian Disease Expert Arnold Rosenwald (266)

Browsing at an estate sale recently, I happened onto a cardboard box containing a couple of dozen of those little yellow boxes in which Kodak used to mail developed movie film back to the home moviemaker.

Surprised that such seemingly private items would be on public sale, I asked the estate sale official if they were really for sale or left at the home inadvertently. I was assured that “the family” had indeed consciously decided to sell the movies (as well as about a thousand letters the couple had written each other over the 1930s and 1940s, hundreds of family photographs and other personal documents). So assured, I bought the lot.

Veterinary medicine doctor and UCD Avian disease expert Arnold Rosenwald made the movies over the mid-1950s and early 1960s. Rosenwald was himself a figure of some significance in UCD history as an avian disease expert in the extension service who traveled the state dealing with disease outbreaks in chicken flocks. While not a professor, he was nonetheless very much a researcher and scholar who was preeminent in avian sciences. He retired from UCD in 1977, but continued to practice his profession. His active career had spanned more than 70 years when he died at age 98 in 2008. (To boot, In WWII he served as a veterinarian -- with the rank of Captain -- in the U. S. Army carrier pigeon corps.)  

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Iconic Brinley Building Over a Half-Century (265)

Nighttime 1965

On reason I collect DHS and UCD yearbooks is the startling and enlightening historical photos I sometimes happen onto in them. I was recently fortunate to have yet another such positive experience when an old friend emailed me that she had acquired a 1965 DHS yearbook that, if I did not already own it, I could buy from her for the $10 she paid at a garage sale. I did not own it and I was delighted to pay $10 in order to hunt for a remarkable new photo (among other topics I peruse in these volumes).  

I was not disappointed. Spanning pages 146 and 147 and measuring 13 inches wide by eight inches tall, we are given the glorious view of the Brinley Building ablaze at night seen here and labeled Nighttime 1965. (It is of course best viewed on a large screen desktop computer and after you have clicked on it in order to zoom it up to full-screen.)