Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Gentle Reminder: KUED Special Airs Tonight

“Ogden: Junction City of the West” chronicles bygone days when our city was run by and for grownups

By What Will It Cost Us

I would like to remind everyone to watch “Ogden: Junction City of the West,” which airs on KUED Channel 7 at 9 p.m. Wednesday(tonight). I would hope the Mayor and City Council also watch to see when Ogden was a fun city open on Sunday, rather than the kiddy land the mayor wants to turn Ogden into. The potential is still here for a better city and I hope the new residents that moved here for the High Adventure see what the city was like when citizens asked questions and didn't plow blindly ahead -- when we had a real downtown with pedestrians, shops, Saturday matinees sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, and activities that were published well ahead of time.


googleboy said...

Meet Your Unfriendly Private Club Bouncer -- The Church

Curmudgeon said...

What It Will Cost:

I'm afraid the days of downtowns filled with many small shops that city residents frequented almost daily are gone for good. Ordinary Americans aren't going return to buying women's clothes at small ladies dress shops nor are middle class men going to get their shirts and ties from a friendly downtown haberdasher, nor will housewives descend daily or nearly so upon the green grocers for edible shrubbery and the meat market for that each night's supper or a small dry goods store for pins and thimbles. Main Streets like that fit the times and technology and demographics and economy of another time. No amount of nostalgia is going to roll the clock back.

Main Street shopping districts can make it now, however, as entertainment, dining and specialty shop districts --- places where the reasonably solvent go to eat, meet friends, drink, find entertainment ["Wise Guys" e.g.], and shop in specialty stores they cannot find at every mall between here and the Atlantic or California coasts. [Note: this is how the Ogden CVB seems... wisely... to be promoting Historic 25th Street to out of towners recently.]

That's not all, of course. Down town main streets also draw on government works [IRS buildings, city hall, e.g.] descending for lunch and some noon-time shopping. And will be helped immeasurably by an increase in the resident population within walking distance of 25th Street [all those promised condos...]. Events help [like the Farmers' Market, occasional concerts, Sundance showings at the Egyptian, etc.].

But the key I think to long term substantial profitability will be nurturing, somehow, a "strolling venue" in downtown Ogden. A place where people do not simply drive in, buy something and drive out. A venue of sidewalk cafes [weather permitting], a variety of eateries [we already have that], shops to browse, things that will keep people down there for a while after they've eaten, or on a sunny day. [Think the Adams/Morgan district of DC or similar streets in Boston or Denver, which are filled with strollers from 4:30 on as people get off from work, listen to some city-sponsored music, have a drink --- yes, a beer or wine, right out there on the street, in front of the chirrin' and everything --- poke around bookstores. "The Tattered Cover" is a major downtown asset. It's become a tourist attraction, for heaven's sake. Historic 25th Street has not been able to put together anything like that yet.

And part of the mix needs to be easy public transit bringing people down to Historic 25th Street, and back. [Yes, we're talking trolleys again now.] And in the interim, buses. Bus access to 25th at the moment is good, and with a little promotion, we should be able to draw some business up out of SLC on Frontrunner.

Which brings me to what I overheard in a coffee shoppe this morning. Some citizens, including business owner on 25th Street, were saying Ogden should advertise its concert series in SLC, bring some people in from the outside now that Frontrunner is here. Another person noted she often only found out what was going on in downtown Ogden [entertainment wise] after it happened. The general tenor of the conversation was that Ogden City and businesses needed to do more by way of promotion of events. May well be so.

But then one of the discussants mentioned that Ogden was "trying to do something about the homeless" by "moving bus stops off 25th Street to 26th Street." One particular business, dealing in high-end furnishings and accent pieces, they said, was asking the City and UTA to move the bus stop away from its shop on 25th Street because its customers didn't like having to see "the kind of people" who wait for buses right outside the entrance to the store, or have to walk by them. "Their customers aren't going to put up with that," they said. Besides, they said, 26th Street " is nearer the social services buildings anyway." All in the discussion seemed to think that moving the bus stops off 25th Street was reasonable.

Not me. I don't know if in fact this is happening, if in fact businesses on 25th are asking that the bus route be moved away so as to keep all those tacky bus riders from putting off their customers. I have only the comments overheard so far to go on. But presuming it is happening, put aside for the moment the arrogance of those who think it intolerable that upscale shoppers should have to actually see people who ride the buses waiting for a bus when they enter a store. [Oh, the horror!] Put aside the fact that moving the bus route to 26th Street would also move it further from the Social Security building downtown. Bus access direct to Historic 25th Street is essential to the development of any kind of strolling street culture.

[And now, I, frequent bus rider downtown who often waits for and boards the bus coming back right outside the store the coffee shoppe group was talking about, get to indulge myself with a rant: who the hell do these arrogant bastards think they are? "We cannot have people waiting for buses outside our store. Why, what will our customers' chauffeurs think?" I have half a mind when I'm waiting for the bus this afternoon outside that store, after going downtown for lunch, to hum "The Internationale" if I see any customers heading inside. Maybe ask them "Excuse me, Comrade, do you have the time?" Maybe drool a little just for effect.

Son of a bitch, what goddamn arrogance! Move the buses off 25th Street so customers won't be offended by having to see people waiting for them. Never mind the flat assumption that anyone who rides the bus could not possibly be a customer of theirs.

OK. Calming down. I'm over it now. For the moment. Excuse the rant.]

If this request to move the routes is in fact being made, I hope UTA isn't going to go along with it, and I hope Ogden City's government is not supporting it.

Jason W. said...

Good Old (?) Curmudgeon:

The ahole who owns the "high-end" showroom about which you write also owns a "home" on a charming street in OTown; it is an historic rock structure that he gutted, on which he installed a new roof, and around which he put in a half-assed yard ... last August. Since then, it has suffered broken windows, the weed farm has grown to knee-length (and not equivalent to the height of half of Lying Little Matty Gondola Godfrey's lower appendages) and there are rotted & rusted appliances in the driveway. The lawn cops have been called, but the neighbors haven't seen any action on that rathole since the snow melted. Why? I haven't a clue, but it's far more offensive than a rider of a bus exiting said vehicle in front of his store. Also, I wasn't aware of the existence of the word "discussant."


things do need to change said...

I don't think the issue is bus access to 25th Street. It is that 25th and Washington is a transfer spot with results in a lot of loitering. Because of that loitering, there tends to be a lot of alcohol related issues in the area which then discourages use of the park area by people who don't want to hang out in an area with loitering drunk people (whether or not they are drunk, it is perceived that way)

Little Bird said...

Here is a thought that I think would be interesting to hear feedback on. What if part of 25th street was turning into a "walk only" access. I've seen these in Central America and they are always busy with people strolling and shopping. This would accomplish what Curm said about limiting the drive in and buy and drive out issue and possibly help the arrogant people mentioned above. No drive lane no buses? Just a thought.

Curmudgeon said...

little bird:

It's an idea. It works in some large cities, like downtown Denver for example. Whether Ogden has the necessary potential volume of street foot traffic, or is likely to anytime soon, I don't know. I imagine the 25th Street Merchants would go ballistic at the idea --- which does not make it necessarily a bad idea. [Restaurant owners in NYC went ballistic at a proposed ban on smoking in restaurants, predicting massive loss of business, a wave of bankruptcies, etc. In fact, once the ban was in place, business in the restaurants went up.]

Whether turning lower 25th Street into a pedestrian mall would work at this point, I don't know. Whether it might work, and work well, at some point in the future... a very interesting idea. Certainly worth chewing over, seems to me.

Moroni McConkie said...

Curm: Your posts on downtown revival are always right on. Why don't you and the Mrs. consider moving to 25th Street? Your heart certainly seems to be in it.

Curmudgeon said...

Things do need:

Granted, loitering at 25th and Washington transfer stops [several key routes connect up there, like the 603 and 612] can be --- no, I'm waffling --- is a problem at times. [But the particular stop complained of in the conversation I overheard involved the other downtown stops, two blocks west of Washington on 25th.] The upside is, there are really no businesses at the transfer point, only the park area. That is also, as you point out, the downside.

Granting that it's a problem, at least at times, what's the solution? Moving the bus route off 25th Street altogether seems to me to be throwing the baby out with the bath water. I wonder if anyone has any other suggestions/solutions.

I don't often transfer there, unless the car is in the shop, but I do occasionally. I've never been panhandled there. Most of the people I see boarding there seem to be either students on the way to school in the AM or working folks on the way to jobs, and the reverse in the late afternoon. But I know what you mean about guys lying on the grass, taking the occasional tug out of a brown paper bag, not creating a welcoming atmosphere for mid-day park events. I wish I had a reasonable solution to offer. Open to suggestions. Surely moving the bus route off 25th Street isn't the only option.

RudiZink said...

"I'm afraid the days of downtowns filled with many small shops that city residents frequented almost daily are gone for good."

With that, I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with you on this, Curm. With oil prices ineluctably climbing into the stratoshere, I think we're going to see a revival in local economies which don't bear the burden of the cost of trans-national (or trans-global) shipping.

My prediction is that we'll see a lot more "general stores" in walkable neighborhoods around the country (and in Ogden) than we've seen in the last forty years.
The high cost of oil and petro-fuels will "level the playing field" for local producers, merchants and farmers, vis-a-vis geographically-distant compamies who are burdened with ever-increasing shipping costs. The "economies of scale" of giant corporations will be mitigated by the relatively low costs of local producers, methinks.

In many ways, the end of cheap oil will transform our local economy into something more closely resembling that of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, once the economic chickens come home to roost.

The latest trend is toward "Green" in America.

Ironically, the latest trend could benefit our local Weber/Box Elder County.

All the farm fields in Weber and Box Elder Counties (nor in Morgan and Cache Counties either) haven't been plowed over and turned into shoddy rowhouses yet.

That's my take!

Feel free to argue with me, Curm.

Stan Mikita said...

Don't forget Stanley Cup Hockey. It comes on at 6:00 on cable channel 34, and the Redwings/Penguin game should be settled before the KUED program comes on at 9:00.

It's a full night of TV entertainment for you folks, in other words.

Jake said...

I'm a fairly new resident here in Ogden (came here because of my IRS job)

Having just watched the KUED video, I'm absolutely stunned about Ogden's history.

I had no idea.

Curmudgeon said...


Hell of story, isn't it?

Historic 25th Street is one of the things that drew us to the city. Some towns, there's really no there there. In Ogden, there definitely is.

what will it costs us said...

The Cowboy Mayors family still has a business here in Ogden, Rainbow Gardens and you can buy the video there. Ogden does have a great history, and a good future ahead with the streetcar, frontrunner, and great outdoor activities. Remember that Pioneer Days started here and not in Salt Lake. Come walk 25th street and look at the old buildings and the stories they could tell.

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