A staple of my childhood growing up in San Diego was going to Balboa Park on the weekends and perusing the various museums, exhibits and gardens. I am not alone in sharing this thought, as the park would constantly be packed with locals and tourists alike, visiting mainly for the San Diego Zoo. It seemed like the best place in the world, and I loved how it was in the middle of Downtown, with buildings and an urban setting completely circling the 1,200 acre park. It was also pretty well located, with multiple freeways going in and around the park and being inland enough to encourage east country residents. Balboa park is Central Parks little brother, but with so much more going on.
However, after our talks about how to liven up neighborhoods, I got to thinking how much better San Diego would have been as a whole had all of the aspects been split into multiple, smaller, segments and spread throughout the various neighborhoods. This would give each neighborhood its individual uniqueness, as well as an identity. In Seattle, the Zoo is located in the Green lake/ Wallingford area, the space museum is near Boeing Field, the Aquarium is at the ferry terminal area, and there are many parks strewn about the area. Unlike New York, where space is at a minimum and Central Park gave a nice change of pace, San Diego is a sprawling city that could easily afford to have placed its key attractions throughout the town.
I grew up in the neighborhood of Rancho Penasquitos, which had a Vons and one hiking trail to the top of a Mountain, which was more of a glorified Hill. If we could have had something small from Balboa Park in our neighborhood, such as the Museum of Man or even the botanical gardens, it would have put us on the map. It also would have given us the sense of community that places all over Seattle have (Ballard people love those Locks, and Alki their Lighthouse). Obviously, it is far too late to be moving things that already have history and a permanent place, but in rising cities, I believe it is best to spread the entertainment services. This boosts the economy in other areas, as well as gives people something to be proud of. The prouder people are of their area, the more likely they are to take care of it, and give it even more of that uniqueness that was mentioned earlier.