The importance of sidewalks

In the article linked below, a great amount of detail is spent illustrating why sidewalks are important to building the fabric of a semi-personal/public society. They function as conduits through which public characters, and non-personal faces can communicate, discuss, and gossip about their neighborhood. Sidewalks allow neighbors to know each other at that appropriate level of semi-personal that allows for the many to one connections. Facilitated through “public sidewalk figures,” the sidewalks become a channel for the daily news around the block. By sharing this news, they help build a sense of community and empathy in the neighborhood. Now, instead of each neighbor being the annoymous man or woman behind door number 349, each door leads to an individual. Loitering on the streets gives time for people who live near each other to empathize with each other, and understand the lives of each other in a way that cannot happen in a completely private circle (where it is hard to keep up with or reveal your secrets to so many people) or a in a completely public circle where everyone is uncharacteristically not themselves. Its the perfect middle ground that allows you to understand without getting deeply involved.

I remember walking around Stanford’s campus a few months back, and thinking to myself that the campus seems more lively, seems happier, and seems more upbeat than Princeton. While I had many observations about why this might be the case, I couldn’t place my finger on the reason. Yes, the weather is better, but no that isn’t the only reason people seemed in general more upbeat. After all, some people actually enjoy the cold weather, and thrive off of the Carmel Mochiattos that they use to keep themselves warm. With colder weather comes more time spent indoors, which in theory should increase a sense of community. However, it just doesn’t seem to be there. Princeton is a smaller school than Stanford. Stanford has 13,000ish students and Princeton has only around 6,500. At almost half the size, why does Princeton feel so much less upbeat and lively than Stanford?

After reading about the Sidewalks and their impact on city socialization, I began thinking about the impact that hallways have on college campuses. I need to spend more time thinking about the impact they have, but my hunch says that our hallways play an important role in the social dynamic that occurs in our local “neighborhoods.”


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