Pedestrian Improvements to Edwards Street
Edwards Street is a side street in the downtown located between The Springfield Museums and Mattoon Street. A previous downtown “master plan” targeted this street for residential development given its somewhat sheltered location vis a vis the perception of urban problems such as crime and blight. Unfortunately, after some small moves aimed toward putting the plan into action, parking was prioritized over all other uses.
Sidewalk improvements, bike lanes, decorative lighting and bump outs create the feel of an urban neighborhood which prioritizes the pedestrian over cars (except for the ubiquitous surface parking!) and serves to connect Mattoon Street and Armory Commons to State Street and the Springfield Armory National Historic Site.
At the point where these “improvements” intersect in the most significant way with the neighborhood’s most popular and iconic institution, the Quadrangle museums, the sidewalk “bump out” and the museums’ gates do not line up. Most pedestrians, whether moving from the main campus to Museum of Springfield History or vice versa will ignore the bump out and cross 15 feet away.
What to do?
Both relocating the bump out or the pedestrian gate to the quad’s main campus would require a Herculean effort. Relocating the gate and the stone entryway to the Museum of Springfield History, on the other hand, would be relatively easy and inexpensive. It could have the benefit as well, by gently nudging the museum visitor onto some real public space, of increasing articulation between the Springfield Museums and other downtown institutions. While that might seem overly optimistic, experience shows that once people take the first step outside their original destination they are many times more likely to continue venturing out.