Time on ‘Manhattanization’ of Downtown
Time Magazine is the latest national or east coast publication to learn that Downtown LA is no longer “dead after working hours.” The venerable Time, in its assessment of Downtown’s growth in the past 10 years, credits Staples Center and L.A. Live for the shift. Their evidence? This quote from AEG spokesman Michael Roth, who gets paid to tout L.A. Live and Staples Center: “Before Staples ‘nobody came downtown,’” Roth tells Time.
That’s generally accurate, but I don’t think Staples was nearly as transformative as the redevelopment of the Old Bank District and the adaptive reuse housing boom that grew the Downtown residential population from about 15,000 to 50,000 in 10 years. The Time article hinges on the question of whether Downtown is on the road to “Manhattanization.” If “Manhattanization” means a more dense, populous and active urban center, the answer is clearly, yes (I just wouldn’t use that term). And while L.A. Live and Staples were game changers that remain instrumental to the area’s regional draw, housing started Downtown’s renewal, and housing will be the lifeblood of continued growth.
Perhaps more than the skyscrapers and its envy-inspiring subway system, what makes Manhattan so distinctly urban is that its streets never sleep. If Downtown sidewalks ever get to the point of being dense with pedestrians at 3 a.m. (or even at 9 a.m. on a Sunday) the people on the street won’t be L.A. Live visitors. They’ll be residents.