212 NORTH QUEEN

/sites/default/files/images/2007_11/212NQueen_1163.jpg200NQueen_W_2007.jpg

212 NORTH QUEEN

212
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1915-1930
/ Demolished in
1970
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

Comments

  • Submitted by Frequent Librar... on Wednesday, December 5, 2007 - 4:09pm

    The county would have to build a parking garage if Queen St was reopened. The library lot is often crowded on weekdays because of functions in the auditorium, and is always between 1/2 and 3/4 full on Saturdays and Sundays. The only reason the main library has stayed downtown is because of ample parking.

  • Submitted by Michael Bacon on Wednesday, December 5, 2007 - 4:53pm

    The county is already planning to build a parking garage on the other side of Liberty St. on the giant surface lot, anyway.

    And in addition to that, there's room to add on-street parking (yes, there I go again) on Liberty, Roxboro, and Holloway, in addition to keeping on-street parking on the newly opened Queen St.

  • Submitted by Gary on Thursday, December 6, 2007 - 12:24am

    FLP

    The county has a ton of parking on the east side of downtown, and as Michael points out, they already plan a deck across the street, and they could, I'd wager, increase the amount of parking if there was any on-street parking available.

    I'm not sure ample parking is the only reason the Main Library stayed downtown - where else would you put it? I'll grant you that it may be the only reason it has stayed on the east side of downtown. But I don't think providing that parking and reopening Queen are mutually exclusive by any means.

    GK

  • Submitted by Anonymous on Thursday, December 6, 2007 - 3:10pm

    On-street parking is one of the reasons downtowns declined in the first place. My parents always opted for a store with its own parking lot rather than trying to parallel park on a city street. My father used to go nuts when stuck in traffic behind someone who took 3 or 4 attempts to swing their car into a space!

  • Submitted by Michael Bacon on Thursday, December 6, 2007 - 4:31pm

    A downtown that relies on people who demand convenient parking is a dead downtown. Trying to make downtown cater directly to car-centric consumers was the thought process behind the Tarrant plan, which gave us the Loop and tore down Union Station and everything around Morgan St. to replace it with parking. It didn't work -- no amount of work could ever make downtown as convenient to a car as a strip mall.

    On-street parking allows a downtown to stay focused on pedestrian traffic, which is what downtowns can cater to better than anywhere else, while still letting those who want to take a car participate. Simply put, there's no way downtown Durham could ever cater to your father short of bulldozing everything and giving up on being a downtown, so it shouldn't try.

    (If you favor the bulldoze option, I daresay you've got the wrong blog.)

  • Submitted by John Martin on Thursday, December 6, 2007 - 6:58pm

    I think that a lot of these discussions of parking are missing a key reason why many people want convenient parking downtown: they don't feel safe. Some of the earlier discussions ("why can't they walk two blocks to the gym?") overlook the fact that lone women feel uncomfortable walking three blocks in downtown Durham after dark. And please don't quote statistics to me about the crime rate in downtown Durham. It doesn't matter what it really is, we all know what the perception is. (The perception may not be entirely wrong. I talked recently to someone who bought a condo in the Kress building, and he said his car has been broken into twice.)

    Anon.'s point about parallel parking is also well-taken. Most people hate to parallel park unless they have done it a lot.

    Don't misunderstand me. I can't stand the way downtown looks, and I don't know what I hate more: the open lots or the ugly decks. I didn't have an automobile until I was 31, and I laughed at people who said it was impossible to live in Durham without a car. I used to walk and hitchhike all over the place. But I don't think these are viable solutions now for reviving downtown.

    Diagonal parking is obviously a good idea. It is easier to get in and out, and it takes less curb space. But the real need is to get people downtown. It's been dead down there for the entire forty years I've lived here. And as long as it's dead, people will feel unsafe, and as long as it feels unsafe, people will stay away unless they can park in a well-lighted spot ten feet from an entrance. That's the reality and lectures on the environmental advantages of riding the bus or cardiovascular advantages of walking, or the aesthetic disadvantages of parking lots will do no good however true they may be.

  • Submitted by Gary on Friday, December 7, 2007 - 3:08am

    Points well-taken, although I don't think the parking is the core issue, and I certainly disagree that parallel parking had all that much to do with the decline of downtown. After all, by the 50s, Durham had created huge surface parking lots north of Morgan and between the tracks and the backs of the structures on Main St. Didn't help. Downtown declined for a lot of reasons - most of which I've mentioned at one point or another. Many other downtowns survived and thrived with a heavy reliance on parallel parking

    John, perhaps you are right - I think we need to go through a stage of creating more stuff, more people, and yet more stuff. And that may include ample parking so the threshold is really, really low. But I think at whatever point the demand begins to increase, people won't hesitate to parallel park. Growing up in New Orleans, surface parking and lots weren't all that common, really - people could zip in and out of parallel spaces with ease. Here, we're pretty lazy and unpracticed - and for the most part, the demand just isn't high enough to motivate people to hunt for a great on-street spot 3-4 blocks away.

    I believe that we are moving closer to something like that in Durham - and if we need to build parking to get there, so be it. I want us to build it in such a way that we continue to enhance our urban space, though, so that it doesn't create dead zones that only worsen that empty feeling of desolation you're talking about downtown.

    GK

  • Submitted by Michael Bacon on Friday, December 7, 2007 - 9:27pm

    Show me a functional, thriving downtown where parking options aren't largely limited to parallel or sequestered deck parking.

    Similarly, show me a functional, thriving downtown where people parked primarily in surface lots.

    In all the large cities to small towns I've been to, the only exception I can think of is the 15k town where I went to college, Northfield, MN, which replaced parallel parking on the main drag, Division St., with . . . diagonal parking.

    Diagonal, on-street parking is currently forbidden, due to stiff opposition from city Public Works staff on safety grounds. I say, okay, fine, restrict it to streets with a speed limit of 20 mph. or lower. Southpoint's parking lots have a 19 mph. speed limit, and are filled with diagonal parking.

  • Submitted by john martin on Friday, December 7, 2007 - 11:08pm

    Gary is absolutely right: parking is not the core issue, but it is AN issue, and when I wrote my comment I was a little irritated at what I perceived to be a healthier-than-thou attitude here and in the comments on the Y parking lot issue. (I, too, am against closing Seminary Street.) If we are going to get people downtown, we have to listen to the reasons why they don't go there, not lecture them on having bad reasons. And it's not a matter of all or nothing: we can have some diagonal, some parallel and some decks. The worst, in my opinion, are the large surface lots which give a desolate feel to huge tracts of downtown.

    The best idea I've heard was Michael's or Gary's (I think) to put decks INSIDE and put an attractive streetscape on the outside. One of you had a diagram for doing that on East Main Street. Why oh why can't the city get off its butt and try something like that? Why not offer one of those surface lots FREE to any developer who will build such a structure and allow the city to continue to use a certain number of parking spaces? Everybody wins. What is now a city lot would produce tax revenue, Durham would look better, there would be more places to go downtown, and city employees would still have their parking spots. What am I missing?

  • Submitted by Gary on Saturday, December 8, 2007 - 2:39am

    John, if you're referring to my statement that people should walk or bike to the Y before they complain about a lack of parking, I stand by it. Not because of a healthier-than-thou attitude; I spend way too much time scannning pictures to be exercising sufficiently. But I can't take the thought of closing a street to satisfy people's desire to drive to a place to get some exercise. Just too ridiculous to me. But then I find gyms kind of ridiculous in the first place.

    GK

  • Submitted by john martin on Saturday, December 8, 2007 - 4:00am

    Ah, Gary, I like this site far too much to criticize anything you say. :) I perfectly well understand how paradoxical it is for people who are going to a gym for exercise to object to walking a couple of blocks. But my original point is that their objections may be legitimately related to safety, not just laziness.

    You made the same point very well in talking about the unease people may legitimately feel about the homeless people asleep in Oakwood Park and hanging around the library. I think we both agree that we want people downtown, and to do that people have to feel comfortable, and it doesn't do any good to ridicule or caricature their concerns. (Not that you're doing that. I'm trying to make peace here, dammit.) And we both agree that Seminary Street should not be closed.

    And I'm delighted to know that you're not healthier-than-me. :) Having recently received a finger-pointing lecture on the evils of meat from a vegan, I'm perhaps a tad sensitive.

  • Submitted by Gary on Saturday, December 8, 2007 - 4:25am

    I understand, John, and I take your point. I don't really have an issue with people who are concerned about a place to park, and I agree with my own point, as you point out, that it doesn't serve any of us well to dismiss their concerns.

    But what crosses the line for me is when those concerns move towards modifying the environment in ways that slavishly serve those concerns and diminish the environment for others as a result - i.e. closing Seminary St., moving the library 3 blocks west to get it away from the homeless shelter, tearing down houses because people fear that they 'create' crime.

    The best solutions, can, as you point out, cover multiple concerns - wrapped decks would be a great asset to the area just north of the Y. People can sweat on the treadmill and have their cake too...

    GK

  • Submitted by Frequent Librar... on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 1:09am

    Interesting discussion. I visit this blog because I'm interested in Durham history.

    Parking matters. The 19th century ended 107 years ago.

  • Submitted by Gary on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 1:55am

    FLP

    You should look at my posts about the late 1800s Banner warehouse (with its painted "Drive In") sign and the late 1800s Parrish Warehouse (with drive up stalls for tobacco carts). Parking mattered even in the 19th century.

    The question has always been how much of our urban space is given over to parking, and how much is given over to the people who get out of their carts or cars and the destinations they drive to.

    Glad you found the discussion interesting!

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Last updated

  • Thu, 09/08/2011 - 11:04pm by gary

Comments

212
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1915-1930
/ Demolished in
1970
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 
Use: 

 

As mentioned yesterday, the 200 block of N. Queen wasn't cut through until after 1915; houses were then built along both sides of this street with a corner store and synagogue at the northern corners (previously profiled).


212 N. Queen., 11.63

In the early 1970s, these houses were demolished through urban renewal. This block of Queen St. was then closed to create more surface parking for the library and WTVD.

200NQueen_W_2007.jpg
Looking northeast, summer 2007.

I think that once Roxboro is converted to two-way, this street should be reopened (the section of street north of here already acts as a southbound cut-through because of the silly one-way-ness of Roxboro.) This is part of a broader problem of devalued connectivity in our transportation system - we continue to struggle with arguments of capacity and speed when we argue to convert roads like Roxboro to two-way. That's because this is what transportation engineers measure and care about - connectivity remains unquantified. Thus the inefficiency of trying to travel east on the north side of downtown, or the inability to access Little Five Points from the south, or the inability to travel south from the library doesn't matter - because you can drive really fast in a circuitous route to get to the same place.

Comments

The county would have to build a parking garage if Queen St was reopened. The library lot is often crowded on weekdays because of functions in the auditorium, and is always between 1/2 and 3/4 full on Saturdays and Sundays. The only reason the main library has stayed downtown is because of ample parking.

The county is already planning to build a parking garage on the other side of Liberty St. on the giant surface lot, anyway.

And in addition to that, there's room to add on-street parking (yes, there I go again) on Liberty, Roxboro, and Holloway, in addition to keeping on-street parking on the newly opened Queen St.

FLP

The county has a ton of parking on the east side of downtown, and as Michael points out, they already plan a deck across the street, and they could, I'd wager, increase the amount of parking if there was any on-street parking available.

I'm not sure ample parking is the only reason the Main Library stayed downtown - where else would you put it? I'll grant you that it may be the only reason it has stayed on the east side of downtown. But I don't think providing that parking and reopening Queen are mutually exclusive by any means.

GK

On-street parking is one of the reasons downtowns declined in the first place. My parents always opted for a store with its own parking lot rather than trying to parallel park on a city street. My father used to go nuts when stuck in traffic behind someone who took 3 or 4 attempts to swing their car into a space!

A downtown that relies on people who demand convenient parking is a dead downtown. Trying to make downtown cater directly to car-centric consumers was the thought process behind the Tarrant plan, which gave us the Loop and tore down Union Station and everything around Morgan St. to replace it with parking. It didn't work -- no amount of work could ever make downtown as convenient to a car as a strip mall.

On-street parking allows a downtown to stay focused on pedestrian traffic, which is what downtowns can cater to better than anywhere else, while still letting those who want to take a car participate. Simply put, there's no way downtown Durham could ever cater to your father short of bulldozing everything and giving up on being a downtown, so it shouldn't try.

(If you favor the bulldoze option, I daresay you've got the wrong blog.)

I think that a lot of these discussions of parking are missing a key reason why many people want convenient parking downtown: they don't feel safe. Some of the earlier discussions ("why can't they walk two blocks to the gym?") overlook the fact that lone women feel uncomfortable walking three blocks in downtown Durham after dark. And please don't quote statistics to me about the crime rate in downtown Durham. It doesn't matter what it really is, we all know what the perception is. (The perception may not be entirely wrong. I talked recently to someone who bought a condo in the Kress building, and he said his car has been broken into twice.)

Anon.'s point about parallel parking is also well-taken. Most people hate to parallel park unless they have done it a lot.

Don't misunderstand me. I can't stand the way downtown looks, and I don't know what I hate more: the open lots or the ugly decks. I didn't have an automobile until I was 31, and I laughed at people who said it was impossible to live in Durham without a car. I used to walk and hitchhike all over the place. But I don't think these are viable solutions now for reviving downtown.

Diagonal parking is obviously a good idea. It is easier to get in and out, and it takes less curb space. But the real need is to get people downtown. It's been dead down there for the entire forty years I've lived here. And as long as it's dead, people will feel unsafe, and as long as it feels unsafe, people will stay away unless they can park in a well-lighted spot ten feet from an entrance. That's the reality and lectures on the environmental advantages of riding the bus or cardiovascular advantages of walking, or the aesthetic disadvantages of parking lots will do no good however true they may be.

Points well-taken, although I don't think the parking is the core issue, and I certainly disagree that parallel parking had all that much to do with the decline of downtown. After all, by the 50s, Durham had created huge surface parking lots north of Morgan and between the tracks and the backs of the structures on Main St. Didn't help. Downtown declined for a lot of reasons - most of which I've mentioned at one point or another. Many other downtowns survived and thrived with a heavy reliance on parallel parking

John, perhaps you are right - I think we need to go through a stage of creating more stuff, more people, and yet more stuff. And that may include ample parking so the threshold is really, really low. But I think at whatever point the demand begins to increase, people won't hesitate to parallel park. Growing up in New Orleans, surface parking and lots weren't all that common, really - people could zip in and out of parallel spaces with ease. Here, we're pretty lazy and unpracticed - and for the most part, the demand just isn't high enough to motivate people to hunt for a great on-street spot 3-4 blocks away.

I believe that we are moving closer to something like that in Durham - and if we need to build parking to get there, so be it. I want us to build it in such a way that we continue to enhance our urban space, though, so that it doesn't create dead zones that only worsen that empty feeling of desolation you're talking about downtown.

GK

Show me a functional, thriving downtown where parking options aren't largely limited to parallel or sequestered deck parking.

Similarly, show me a functional, thriving downtown where people parked primarily in surface lots.

In all the large cities to small towns I've been to, the only exception I can think of is the 15k town where I went to college, Northfield, MN, which replaced parallel parking on the main drag, Division St., with . . . diagonal parking.

Diagonal, on-street parking is currently forbidden, due to stiff opposition from city Public Works staff on safety grounds. I say, okay, fine, restrict it to streets with a speed limit of 20 mph. or lower. Southpoint's parking lots have a 19 mph. speed limit, and are filled with diagonal parking.

Gary is absolutely right: parking is not the core issue, but it is AN issue, and when I wrote my comment I was a little irritated at what I perceived to be a healthier-than-thou attitude here and in the comments on the Y parking lot issue. (I, too, am against closing Seminary Street.) If we are going to get people downtown, we have to listen to the reasons why they don't go there, not lecture them on having bad reasons. And it's not a matter of all or nothing: we can have some diagonal, some parallel and some decks. The worst, in my opinion, are the large surface lots which give a desolate feel to huge tracts of downtown.

The best idea I've heard was Michael's or Gary's (I think) to put decks INSIDE and put an attractive streetscape on the outside. One of you had a diagram for doing that on East Main Street. Why oh why can't the city get off its butt and try something like that? Why not offer one of those surface lots FREE to any developer who will build such a structure and allow the city to continue to use a certain number of parking spaces? Everybody wins. What is now a city lot would produce tax revenue, Durham would look better, there would be more places to go downtown, and city employees would still have their parking spots. What am I missing?

John, if you're referring to my statement that people should walk or bike to the Y before they complain about a lack of parking, I stand by it. Not because of a healthier-than-thou attitude; I spend way too much time scannning pictures to be exercising sufficiently. But I can't take the thought of closing a street to satisfy people's desire to drive to a place to get some exercise. Just too ridiculous to me. But then I find gyms kind of ridiculous in the first place.

GK

Ah, Gary, I like this site far too much to criticize anything you say. :) I perfectly well understand how paradoxical it is for people who are going to a gym for exercise to object to walking a couple of blocks. But my original point is that their objections may be legitimately related to safety, not just laziness.

You made the same point very well in talking about the unease people may legitimately feel about the homeless people asleep in Oakwood Park and hanging around the library. I think we both agree that we want people downtown, and to do that people have to feel comfortable, and it doesn't do any good to ridicule or caricature their concerns. (Not that you're doing that. I'm trying to make peace here, dammit.) And we both agree that Seminary Street should not be closed.

And I'm delighted to know that you're not healthier-than-me. :) Having recently received a finger-pointing lecture on the evils of meat from a vegan, I'm perhaps a tad sensitive.

I understand, John, and I take your point. I don't really have an issue with people who are concerned about a place to park, and I agree with my own point, as you point out, that it doesn't serve any of us well to dismiss their concerns.

But what crosses the line for me is when those concerns move towards modifying the environment in ways that slavishly serve those concerns and diminish the environment for others as a result - i.e. closing Seminary St., moving the library 3 blocks west to get it away from the homeless shelter, tearing down houses because people fear that they 'create' crime.

The best solutions, can, as you point out, cover multiple concerns - wrapped decks would be a great asset to the area just north of the Y. People can sweat on the treadmill and have their cake too...

GK

Interesting discussion. I visit this blog because I'm interested in Durham history.

Parking matters. The 19th century ended 107 years ago.

FLP

You should look at my posts about the late 1800s Banner warehouse (with its painted "Drive In") sign and the late 1800s Parrish Warehouse (with drive up stalls for tobacco carts). Parking mattered even in the 19th century.

The question has always been how much of our urban space is given over to parking, and how much is given over to the people who get out of their carts or cars and the destinations they drive to.

Glad you found the discussion interesting!

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