At Night in Pomona

From Ninin Ga Shinobuden, v.2, p.82.

One thing I love about Lincoln Park is taking walks at night, and especially gazing down the lamppost lined streets of Columbia, Jefferson, and Lincoln Avenues. I was just commenting to the Enchantress of Alvarado the other night over cocktails how hir neighborhood, the Picard Orchard District, only had the “cobra” lights, which are high up and scatter the light all around. This is positive in that it makes the street lit, but it just isn’t pretty or human scaled. They need the pretty lampposts, in other neighborhoods too. There are also lots of studies showing that since the smaller scale lights are closer to the pedestrian level, they also feel more personal, less hyper-real, and, especially, safer (an absolutely excellent text on this subject of lighting scale as it relates to safety is Safe Cities, by G.R. Wekerle and C. Whitzman).

Anyway, when I look down the three avenues mentioned, the lights just line up all the way down them through west neighborhood to the Park, and it just looks so lovely and peaceful as I walk down Bradford Street at night. Ahhhhhh.

A such nice thing is also 2nd Street of course. I think there’s also something wonderful about 2nd Street at night as you walk west past S. Main and come into the warm surroundings of those buildings there around the street with the galleries. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’ll have to look at it more closely next time I’m there in the evening to pin-point the things that make that space so warm in my memory.

One night a few weeks back the Enchantress and I with a couple of good friends walked from hir neighborhood, down San Antonio, past Holt, and over the tracks to The Abby (it’s a bar in Pomona) to enjoy some drinks. San Anton’ before Holt isn’t too bad at night, but once you hit Holt, it just goes downhill, a street wasteland.

All of this also leads me think about the book A Pattern Language, by C. Alexander, et al. As I flip through the text right now, for at least something related to this post, the best thing I could find was a lovely section on Night Life:

Most of the city’s activities close down at night; those which stay open won’t do much for the night life of the city unless they are together.

    This pattern is drawn from the following seven points:
    1. People enjoy going out at night; a night on the town is something special.
    2. If evening activities such as movies, cafes, ice cream parlors, gas stations, and bars are scattered throughout the community, each one by itself cannot generate enough attraction.

    3. Many people do not go out at night because they feel they have no place to go. They do not feel like going out to a specific establishment, but they do not feel like going out. An evening center, particularly when it is full of light, functions as a focus for such people.
    4. Fear of the dark, especially in those places far away from one’s own back yard, is a common experience, and quite simple to understand. Throughout our evolution night has been a time to stay quiet and protected, not a time to move about freely.

    5. Nowadays this instinct is anchored in the fact that at night street crimes are most prevalent in places where there are too few pedestrians to provide natural surveillance, but enough pedestrians to make it worth a thief’s while, in other words, dark, isolated night spots invite crime. A paper by Shlomo Angel, “The Ecology of Night Life” (Center of Environmental Structure, Berkeley, 1968), shows the highest number of street crimes occurring in those areas where night spots are scattered. Areas of very low or very high night pedestrian density are subject to much less crime.

    6. It is difficult to estimate the exact number of night spots that need to be grouped to create a sense of night life. From observation, we guess that it takes about six, minimum.
    7. On the other hand, massive evening centers, combining evening services which a person could not possibly use in the same night, are alienating. For example, in New York the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts makes a big splash at night, but it makes no sense. No one is going to the ballet and the theater and a concert during one night on the town. And centralizing these places robs the city as a whole of several centers of night life.

    All these arguments together suggest small, scattered centers of mutually enlivening night spots, the services grouped to form cheery squares, with lights and places to loiter, where people can spend several hours in an interesting way. Here are some examples of small groups of mutually sustaining night activities.
    A movie theater, a restaurant and a bar, and a bookstore open til midnight; a smoke shop.
    A laundromat, liquor store and cafe; and a meeting hall and beer hall.
    Lodge hall, bowling alley, bar, playhouse.
    A terminal, a diner, hotels, nightclubs, casinos.

    Knit together shops, amusements, and services which are open at night along with hotels, bars, and all-night diners to form centers of night life: well-lit, safe, and lively places that increase the intensity of pedestrian activity at night by drawing all the people who are out at night to the same spots in town. Encourage these evening centers to distribute themselves evenly across the town.

As we look at this entry above, admittedly, some points may be debated, but it is generally, I think, good information. It is clearly addressed to “planners” and other city administrators, but as government budgets are shrinking dramatically, people are awaking to the common law, and so as a people, we need to work together to draw our businesses and nightspots together to create even more wonderful, warm, and unique night spaces around Pomona. :)

In general, Pomona already has some quite wonderful places, and the text above is pretty business-based and less about parks and residential streets, but a review of some contributing factors to having more, more engaging places – couldn’t hurt.

There could always be more, but for now, there are already some really wonderful and unique places in our city to enjoy right now. Ahhh, lovely Pomona.

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