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Jonathan Potts

I seem to recall that the residents of Summerset complained when the Port Authority created a bus route through their neighborhood. Real urban.


Just visited Summerset. It's not a mix of residential, retail, and commercial. But it is pleasant. They have a community pool. You'd probably need to walk a half a mile to a convenience store. Nearly a mile to the nearest bar, PD's; mile and a quarter to Silky's; and a mile and a half to the Squirrel Cage. Not exactly The Stumbles at Stumbling Acres.

By the way, once you finish the prospectus to The Stumbles, Sam, I'd like to see a copy.

sean mcdaniel

ah...no bus routes through a residential...sounds like the piatt plan proposed for fifth avenue...and idea sam liked.

pointed barbs aside...a bus route through summerset is ridiculous. unless that place has grown by leaps and bounds since i last pedaled through, it's not that far of a walk from the plan's farthest reaches to beechwood blvd. hell, some of the streets in my neighborhood are a longer hike from the nearest stop.

whatever the atmosphere is there, is it any different than some of the older homes in the area that take up as much land per home but aren't in a planned subdivision? if the issue is population density then those old mansions of the past never fit into the scheme. you gotta remember guys, most of the east end neighborhoods weren't ever meant to be for the common man...and definitely not for working stiffs like most of us.
they were havens of civility, removed from the teeming masses packed into southside, lawrenceville, the strip and a lot of northside too.

by the way, when frick and carnegie built their mansions in nyc, those castles were considered to be far removed from the rabble that lived in lower manhattan. the rich and affluent have always tried to maintain neighborhoods away from the rest of us...just take a look at sewickley heights.

Sam M

No doubt true. I only mention Summerset at Frick because as I try to figure out what "New Urbanism" really means, that development doesn't fit the picture that I have in my mind. In fact, I would think proponents of ]New Urbanism would find a lot to DISLIKE about it. But there it is, lested as a "traditional neighborhood project." Are TNPs something different? Hard to keep up with all these terms.

As for the prospectus, Mark, I'll send you one. I am hoping to print them on cocktail napkins and distribute them to all the wrong people. The Stumbles at Stumbling acres will not be a clean place to live. But it will be fun. The only dispute now is whether or not to make smoking mandatory.

John Morris

Stumbletown, I think I live there. But, really when people come up with zoning laws are little things like drunk driving ever considered? A lot of urban design is almost mandating it.

sean mcdaniel

i'm lost here...because I know JM isn't saying the urban design is mandating drunk driving. but does he mean that because of our "over" reliance on cars, drunk driving is inevitable? i will admit, i love NYC as a drinking town,you can imbibe all day and never need to get behind the wheel of a car. it is a thing of beauty. but then again...whatever the zoning laws, there's that little thing called self-control with a chaser of common sense.

John Morris

But it is kind of funny how there are all these places with bars separated completly from housing. It sort of looks like a plan. Ok, so I am saying that a lot of urban design ecourages it and sort of promotes it.

sean mcdaniel

yeah, new housing developments don't include bars...and they forgot the pawn shops and strip joints too. now neglectful.



I think it depends on what kind of bar you are talking about. Right down the hill from me, I hardly think that Pub in the Park and the Triangle amount to scourges on their community. Or Foli's down the other way. To the contrary, they are real community assets. I wish there were something along those lines way up here. The Braddock Hills fire department operates a litte watering hole. And I don't recall any complaints.

And what would any up-and-coming artsy community be without it pawn shops, er, I mean "vintage retailers"?

All a matter of perception.

And while I think neighborhoods can differ, and that some places might have some problems, I see no problem having some retail and services mixed in with residential. Even when a few of those places sell (gasp!) beer.

John Morris


Do you want to deal with the issue of drunk driving and sprawl? How do you think these people are getting home after drinking in Station Square or the strip? Drunk driving has almost been designed in.


JM, perhaps some have intended us to be away from bars, but I doubt they were architects, planners, and real estate developers.

The intent, I believe was to give us 1/2 acre lots. The automobile is what allowed us the freedom to move there, and lower densities made it harder for the corner bar to survive. The corner bar, however,is doing much better than the five-and-dime.

I believe, like Sam, there's a desire to walk to a place and have a beer or three, and then walk home not having to worry about controlling 3,000 pounds of chrome and steel. The rub is no one wants to live next to a bar. A mile is too far, two-hundred yards is too close.

I suggest all planners plan for all bars to be 1/4 to 1/2 mile away from residential areas. Three or four blocks of residential and commercial should be a sufficient buffer. And it would make sense to plan for a florist halfway between the tavern and home. ("You know, my wife is a beautiful woman. A beautiful woman. I don't know what I did to deserve her. You know what I'm going to do. I'm going to buy her a flower on the way home. No. Make that a bunch of flowers. A beautiful woman. That she is.")

That kind of planning is not paternal and socialistic; it's just smart.

John Morris

In NY, that is often about how it works. Although there are bars everywhere. Certainly the "high end" folks tend not to want to live above one. But, I think that the very small cute clubs and bars that make up a lot of NY's scene are welcome neighbors, they do make the street's less empty in the middle of the night.

But it is funny how when people manage to zone bars far away from thier homes that the issue of drunk driving is never raised.

Eric E

I'd call Summerset a qualified success. It definitely feels more suburban than urban, and is still unquestionably a bedroom community. But it does have streets that connect, plus alleys and integrated public spaces. And it managed to build the basic fabric of urban space while reclaiming a brownfield site, which is a hell of a lot better than leaving it a slag heap and moving further out east to a greenfield site in Huntingdon. So I'd encourage our cranky proprietor to take a somewhat longer view.

As for the subject of bars, Mark and Jam hit the nail on the head that "poor" people are more likely willing to live there than rich people. But remember that a lot of those "poor" people are poor because they're young, so living above a bar is not such a minus, and in fact may be a plus. Doubly so if it lets them live in an urban space at a price they can afford. I have a friend who was living above a bar in Bloomfield for exactly those reasons, and she just bought a house in Highland Park. As folks get older, richer, and more likely to be bestowed with children, they'll move to the further away housing, but hopefully will have enjoyed the urban experience enough to seek to live reasonably close, rather than 20 miles out.


Corner bar is fine if you're the Cheers "I want to go where everybody knows my name" type, but if you like meeting new people, as I do, you like to mix it up and go to all sorts of different places. Whether in New York or here, that requires travelling some distance. The advantage in New York is that cabs are relatively easy to come in many places I go, whereas here that is only true really in the Strip District.

Again, if you live in Bloomfield, Lawrenceville, Shadyside, Oakland, you have plenty of corner bar type choices, and the same is true in many other neighborhoods.


Poor people/young people living above a bar is true... That's why you have young people living on Carson in the South Side. A good friend of mine lives in Brooklyn 1 floor up from what we'd consider a nuisance bar (Lots of very loud music late into the night)... It's not that big of a deal to him becuase he's poor (though he's paying $800 for a room in a 3br house) because he's usually out pretty late anyway.

sean mcdaniel

honestly, this whole thread of suburbs causing drunk driving is hilarious...and personal and social responsibility from the individual...what a ridiculous train of thought. jesus, if you can't drive back to the suburbs...sleep it off in the back seat of the hummer. it's big enough to house an indian family making a $1,000 a year.but make sure you park on a quiet street, away from the noise of the nuisance bar and all those sloshed guys who'll piss on your tires.

as for drunk driving being designed into suburban planning...well, did you ever notice how many bars were right outside the gates of steel mills, so that guys finishing their shifts could down a few "ahrns" before driving home?

again, it's up to you not to drink and drive...talk about social micromanagement.


Not just steel mills... how about all of those bars downtown that cater mainly to the happy hour crowd...

Happy hours, I think, were always meant for the after work, before home crowd... how do they get home?

sean mcdaniel

yep, again, it's called personal responsibility...if you want to ensure that those downtown/station square/carson street/southside works after work revelerd don't drink and drive, maybe you'd suggest a cop outside every establishment that serves alcohol...or mandate that you can't drink more than a quarter mile from your home...or ban happy hours...or just encourage people to do the right thing...don't drink and drive! how hard is that to understand? am i in downtown kabul these days?

John Morris

Well, yes how do they get home? Something scary to think about.

Ed Heath

Just popping in without paying a whole lot of attention to the real discussion ... I remember more than once (when I worked downtown) staggering onto an EBA (the coolest bus concept) after a happy hour, and even biking home once from Oakland (illegal, I know, but strikes me as less immoral). Certainly plenty of people take buses to far away 'burbs, but the so and so's who insist on living in a 'burb so exclusive it has no bus service? Well, if they plan ahead and park in a relatively close park and ride ... then any drunk driving will be done in the suburbs! I think that's grand, the only people likely affected will be the people who chose to live in McMansion-ville.

Of course, I thought the whole point of (the) New Urbanism was to set up burb’s with a faux town center, easy for residents to access but tough for (undesirable) outside elements. You leave your job, drive to your “Mc-Town”, and then share happy hour with the right sort of people. At worst, you might drive a golf cart to a bar and get wasted (my brother lives in Peachtree City, Ga., the very model of New Urbanism you are looking for). Then you are easier to dodge, and any accidents you cause are less likely to be fatal.


sean mcdaniel

yeah those club cars reach a top speed of about 25 miles an hour and when you hit a pedestrian...the dents in the cart body pop right. the dent's in the pedestrian's body take a little more work.

anyway the whole issue is not how to design out drunk driving...it's personal responsibility. i find this line of thought very curious for a guy (JM) who feels that government micromanages the lives of people and cities.

i've worked with MADD in the past. no one there proposes prohibition...just commonsense. it's that easy, really. and yeah, i've had relatives arrested for DUI.And they deserved it.

Sam M

The drunk driving issue is an interesting one. To be honest, it's why I always lived in bar districts. I know myself too well.

And I am from a place where the height of wussiness is to admit that you have had too many. A sort of cultural thing, I guess. But also one impacted by other issues. It's kind of easy for people in NYC to preach abstinence. They don't have to control themselves.

(And want to know the truth? I still carry some degree of that hard-headedness with me. I really do thioonk I could drive. Especially on the mostly empty town streets where I am from. Especially at 4 am. But in the end, I got over that. Not because I was afraid of getting arrested. The fact that it is illegal to drive drunk, I think, makes it kind of cool with a lot of peope I know. No. The reason I avoided it was because I was always afraid that I would kill somebody. You know, fal asleep at the wheel and... bang.)

In the end I agree with Sean. I found a way to stay out of my car. I lived near the bar. And I had to pay extra. Rent was more there. But again... sinner, know thyself.

At the same time, I do wonder where we are headed with the ever-decreasing legal limit. Maybe it's the macho me coming out, but I certainly think I can operate a vehicle after two glasses of wine over a two-hour dinner.

Saying otherwise might not sound like prohibition, but that's what it is, in effect.

I think MADD has good intentions, but I wonder where they are headed. The legal limit is .08 now. Anyone think they are going to stop there?

I might add that, historically, most American prohibition movements have been driven, at least in part, by women.

Go figure.

sean mcdaniel

In the end I agree with Sean.

never did i think i'd hear those words.

as for two drinks in two hours during dinner...you're not going to register anywhere near .08 BAC.

Sam M


Yeah, today I am probably OK with two glasses of wine. But I am not so sure about next year. Or the year after. Institutionally, MADD has to have an agenda. And I see it contantly working the limit downward.

You know, it probably wasn't such a good plan to allow people to drink a case and a half of beer and careen all over the highway. And we have moved away from that. And we keep moving. And moving. And the penalties keep getting worse and worse.

Has it gone too far? Maybe. But I do wish there were a bit more common sense in the system.Which i think is happening little by little. I might be wrong, but I think the penalty is a little less stiff if you blow a .08 than if you blow a .26. At least I hope so.

I also think swerving through a school zone 3 pm ought to carry a bit more of a penalty than puttering along an empty country road.

Last, People ought to take a look at this:


It's the Post-Gazette editorial that indicates that using a cell phone while driving is MORE DANGEROUS than driving drunk.

So if safety is really the main concern, shouldn't we match penalty-for-penalty?

I have a hard time believing that study. But there it is.

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