A fascinating City Observatory study entitled “The Storefront Index” by Joe Jacobs was published recently showing customer facing storefront density for the top 51 American cites. How did Richmond do? Well, first off the study only shows the absolute number of retail stores in the central business district for each city and doesn’t control for the population differences. So that will obviously penalize Richmond because it is a significantly smaller city than San Francisco, New York, Seattle, etc, in terms of absolute population. Nevertheless, Richmond storefront density ranked 36th out of the top 51 largest cities in the US using the prescribed approach.
If you use the interactive map below you can see how Richmond compares to other cities. Just select the city you want to see and each red dot represents a storefront. You can even zoom in to see specific neighborhoods. What I find particularly interesting is that this tool will keep data over time so we can track how Richmond and its neighborhoods change. This will be important specifically for watching the Hull Street corridor in Manchester.
Here are some further thoughts from the author:
“As Jane Jacobs so eloquently described it in The Death and Life of American Cities, much of the essence of urban living is reflected in the “sidewalk ballet” of people going about their daily errands, wandering along the margins of public spaces (streets, sidewalks, parks and squares) and in and out of quasi-private spaces (stores, salons, bars, boutiques, bars and restaurants).
Clusters of these quasi-private spaces, which are usually neighborhood businesses, activate a streetscape, both drawing life from and adding to a steady flow of people outside.
In an effort to begin to quantify this key aspect of neighborhood vitality, we’ve developed a new statistical indicator—the Storefront Index (click to see the full report)—that measures the number and concentration of customer-facing businesses in the nation’s large metropolitan areas. We’ve computed the Storefront Index by mapping the locations of hundreds of thousands of everyday businesses: grocery and hardware stores, beauty salons, bookstores, bars and restaurants, movie theatres and entertainment venues, and then identifying significant clusters of these businesses—places where each storefront business is no more than 100 meters from the next storefront.
The result is a series of maps, available for the nation’s 51 largest metropolitan areas, that show the location, size, and intensity of neighborhood business clusters down to the street level…”