Sunday, January 2, 2011

Downtown Burbank: Sweet

San Fernando Blvd. and Palm Ave., Burbank, CA. Source: Google Maps.

I recently had a chance to check out Downtown Burbank, and I've got to say my cursory foot survey made me pretty happy.

Getting There
The area is about 18km north of Downtown LA. If you can get to the Civic Center subway station, get off and catch the 794 Metro Rapid bus on Hill St. It has frequent service, so you won't have to wait long. This takes you up San Fernando Boulevard until the post-Glendale buildings get tall. You can also use Metrolink, but it'll probably be more expensive and take longer than the bus. I guess you could also drive, but I won't facilitate that. Can we get some light rail up here please???

Mixed Use and Good Street Design Awesomeness
The centerpiece of downtown seemed to be San Fernando Boulevard. It was narrow for cars and wide for pedestrians with nice landscaping and benches, and mid-block bump outs that make it easy to cross the street. The stores go up to the sidewalk and parking is handled efficiently in garages or at the curb. Some of the commercial buildings had apartments over them (some of which were renting for $1,000 a month, not the most terrible rent ever by LA standards). There were also some apartments just back from the street, meaning the area has a residential base to support the stores without having to bring in a ton of cars. The street dead ends at a traditional mall. Even this isn't a total ecological disaster because there are some tall apartment buildings nearby on the reverse side, creating more walking opportunities. There were even some bike lanes, and sidewalks everywhere of course (a prerequisite of urban civilization) :)

Pedestrian Only Street
One perpendicular street, Palm Avenue, had bollards so that is was pedestrians only. One side was an apartment building with ground level shops, the other side was a movie theater. There was an artificial(?) Christmas tree that you could walk through and it was lit up on the inside. Fun! There were lots of people out by the way, although it doesn't show up in the photo above.

Food and Knowledge
After fueling up with a veggie burrito I headed home. In transit I've had the chance to start Reinventing Los Angeles: Nature and Community in the Global City, which is pretty interesting so far. Maybe more on that later.


  1. Nice to hear about the sometimes neglected downtowns in SoCal. May we treasure and nurture them all, not just DTLA.

  2. Thanks, there are a lot of places around LA that display aspects of good urban design. Hopefully we can take pride in our walkable, vibrant, interesting places and extend these benefits to more people.