Newburgh is walkable. So what does that mean and why is that a good thing? Well, a website called WalkScore.com helps people find walkable places to live by calculating the “walkability of an address by locating nearby stores, restaurants, schools, parks, etc. Walk Score measures how easy it is to live a car-lite lifestyle—not how pretty the area is for walking.”
So, I put in an address for 117 Liberty Street and came up with the map you see above. The score is 91 which is considered a “Walkers’ Paradise: Most errands can be accomplished on foot and many people get by without owning a car.” Like mentioned before, the website does not calculate how pretty or safe the area is for walking but, we can see that Newburgh could rank among some of the highest walkable areas in the country such as San Francisco, New York, and Boston. Obviously these areas have a higher population density which also contributes to their score. The point trying to be made here is that walkable neighborhoods and cities are very difficult to create, and they don’t exist everywhere. But right in Newburgh there is the foundation for a city whose walkableness could actually become a reality AGAIN.
Many old timers have fond memories of walking around Newburgh, such as Deirdre Glenn, Executive Director of Habitat Newburgh. Commenting on how she became involved in working for Habitat she said, “Growing up I walked or rode my bike everywhere. We lived a full life and felt safe. And growing up, I knew that if I did something wrong on the cross-town route the chances were great that mother would know about it when I got home.” Do you have any memories like hers? With a lot of elbow grease this could be possible again.
So what does Walk Score take into account when calculating walkability?
A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a discernible center, whether it’s a shopping district, a main street, or a public space. Check ?
Density: The neighborhood is compact enough for local businesses to flourish and for public transportation to run frequently. Check ?
Mixed income, mixed use: Housing is provided for everyone who works in the neighborhood: young and old, singles and families, rich and poor. Businesses and residences are located near each other. Check ?
Parks and public space: There are plenty of public places to gather and play. Check ?
Pedestrian-centric design: Buildings are placed close to the street to cater to foot traffic, with parking lots relegated to the back. Check ?
Nearby schools and workplaces: Schools and workplaces are close enough that most residents can walk from their homes. Check ?
What are the benefits of being a walkable area according to Walk Score? Better health, reduction in greenhouse gas, more transportation options, increased social capital, and stronger local businesses. That is kind of a no brainer right? This is just another reason why Newburgh is a diamond in the rough waiting to be polished again. It has all ingredients to become a great city again. Hopefully the well established businesses in the area will continue to thrive and attract people to the East End. There are plenty more storefronts available for you entrepeneurs out there. And hopefully people will continue to look at the renovation possibilities. So what else is there left to say…..than take a wise walk around sometime and discover Newburgh by foot.