Where’s the shade?

A desert downtown lacks shade: the one thing that will make it immensely more walkable year-round.

[editor’s note: This is not the post-Downtown Phoenix Podcast essay promised for Friday. That’s still coming, you guessed it, tomorrow.]

Yesterday, some friends of mine and I went to the afternoon matinee Diamondbacks game at downtown Phoenix’s Chase Field. Despite a D’backs pitching meltdown and more Detroit fans present at the game than Diamondbacks fans, it was a fun afternoon. Leaving Chase Field, though, it became very apparent that we have one major design flaw in our downtown: there’s no shade.

Yep, in a desert city, there’s no shade. And when it’s 115º F (46º C) outside, walking in full sunlight is not a fun thing to be doing. It’s also downright dangerous.

So while we keep thinking of new ways to make downtown Phoenix — and all of our urban environs — if we deny the fundamental fact that we need lots of natural shade, what’s the point? Metal shade doesn’t count. And palm trees, despite being a part of Phoenix’s historic character, provide no environmental benefits to pedestrians.

Some pictures from my collection of an unshaded downtown Phoenix…

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