Research Help

I am doing some research and hope some readers here can help. I’m looking for:

  • Examples of low to moderate density residential neighborhoods connected by a street grid to moderate density retail or mixed use districts. Neighborhoods near busy roads and with high income levels would be a plus.
  • Example track cross sections and other detailed alignment data for modern light rail lines operating on narrow right of ways. Data including station dimensions would be best.

These requests are related to my work with the University of Maryland East Campus project, and both will be explained in depth on Rethink College Park.

Author: Rob Goodspeed


  1. hmm… re: #1: Richmond, VA comes to mind. The city was planned based on a grid. The near west end features lower density residential–and pretty pricey–neighborhoods connected to several shopping districts. The Libby/Grove commercial district and surrounding residential area particularly may satisfy your search criteria (I’m sure if you Google Libby Grove, you’ll find some info).

  2. What about Tenleytown or Friendship Heights in D.C.? There are plenty of examples in Chicago (Follow Rush north from the Loop). Or Oak Park, Ill. Royal Oak, Mich., and Ferndale, Mich. come to mind, but those aren’t necessarily high income.

  3. Oak Park is pretty high income. I’d suggest Evanston, IL as well. There are many old line chicago suburbs of this sort — all of the North Shore, especially including Lake Forest and Wilmette.

    My home town of Geneva, IL is another idea that would be off the radar a little bit.

  4. i bet the specs for the under-construction phoenix light rail system are out there. and it passes through the university town of tempe. when learning about this project, it made me very happy to know that the purple line already has a right of a way for most of its length. the system in phoenix does not and it is my understanding will have to stop for traffic lights, which negates a lot of the advantages of rail.

  5. Bethesda has examples:
    Directly west of downtown is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in MoCo (per square foot). It’s entirely single-family homes.

    Directly east of downtown Bethesda is the early-20th-century-built Chevy Chase, but the commercial district it abuts is actually high-density.

    If you want to know the details of how the county has managed to mitigate the consequences of such a close cohabitation, just ask (mostly it’s through turn, entry, and parking restrictions).

  6. Curtis Park and Land Park in Sacramento — not quite thriving retail areas, but on light right, hemmed in by freeways, and still great neighborhoods.

  7. I should list all of the transit accessible old streetcar suburbs around Chicago that come to mind: Wilmette, Oak Park, Lake Forest, Geneva, Glen Ellyn. If you are looking for a town in transition: Elgin and Aurora have gone from sad failed 19th century industrial cities to bustling historic neighborhoods centered around old downtowns and transit. There are a bunch of Southwest suburbs too, although as North and West sider. I don’t know those very well, but La Grange comes to mind.

    Berkeley, CA, is very similar to Bethesda, with a high density (for California) downtown and good transit options with a mix of housing. And very strong bike options.

    Alameda, CA, is another great example although less transit accessible than Berkeley. I could go on and on.

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