Delaware’s Great Streets
The Town of Whitehall’s planning puts such a great emphasis on streets. When I was first introduced to Whitehall’s street layout, I did not have a strong understanding of why it took so long to perfect (15 years of planning to be exact!). I took it upon myself to investigate through interviews, research and even taking a trip to some of Delaware’s most beloved streets. I discovered that a great street needs three very important qualities: walkability, entertainment, and a purposeful layout for them to become successful. When buying a home on a street in Whitehall, you are buying more than a shelter, you are buying a lifestyle, you are buying the street.
“People are determined to walk”. –Michael Watkins, Architect and Town Planner
Walkability is defined by the ability to freely walk for means of transportation, exercise, and socialization. If you forget an ingredient for dinner while you were at the local grocery store, you may dread the thought of lugging your kids back into the car and driving at least ten, stressful minutes in order to rectify a simple mistake. How nice would it be to be able to walk a few blocks away instead?
Through my research, I discovered that the goal of any great street is to make sure the residents of a community can accomplish something by choosing walking as their transportation method, whether it is going to school, work, or dinner at your favorite restaurant. When the walker completes the accomplishment, they are rewarded by not only accomplishing their goal, but also a more subtle reward of bettering their health.
Exercise is another key to walkability. It is proven that people who walk tend to be happier overall. Mood-changing endorphins motivate people to walk anywhere, so why not get a pleasant experience while you exercise? No one enjoys boring scenery on a walk, which is why communities like Whitehall work exceptionally hard to improve the walking experience. Improving this experience motivates the community to get out and socialize with one another, or visit friends that one may not have able to visit in a common neighborhood. The residents at Whitehall will be able to experience the feeling of hanging up your keys after work on Friday and letting them collect dust until Monday comes around.
“Whether it is a shopper or someone going out to dinner, one can easily assess their environment”. –Susan Henderson, Whitehall Master Planner
I realized that Whitehall’s designers planned the streets around the communities’ entertainment. The planners installed parks, places for community gatherings, and a main street for shopping and dining. The developers made it so residents would not get bored or feel like they need to leave the community if they do not want to. Besides being a fun place to live, the planners also made sure that Whitehall was beautiful, no matter what it took. They created a beautiful, scenic view with trees, a man-made lake, and pavilions. Whitehall also invested time and effort into finding what the future residents find entertaining for each age demographic and accommodated those requests. Boredom is a concept that great streets simply do not know.
My research found that the streets take so long to be planned because of many specifications. The first reason is that developers must work from the center to the edge when designing the community. The streets must be narrow enough to create a much slower pattern in traffic and a safer environment for walkers. Street parking on the main streets will also create a buffer to let walkers stroll worry-free. A line of trees on the street’s edge provides shade and an additional buffer. When designing the homes and streets together, the developer brought the porches closer to walkers to create a strong community feel. Many years of safety research went into the entire process.
Whether it be walkability, entertainment, or a purposeful layout that makes a great street, Whitehall seems to have it all. Many years of work and a great deal of professional experience goes into every decision that is made about the town. When buying a home on a street in Whitehall, you are buying more than a shelter, you are buying a lifestyle, you are buying the street.
New Castle, DE