Sunday, November 17, 2013

URBAN LIVABILITY: Revitalizing the Square in the Heartland, Quincy, Illinois

By Kayla Fuller


            This paper will explore the historic downtown district of Quincy, IL to encourage residents to live downtown and specifically in the area around Washington Square. In July 2010, the town was awarded a six million dollar grant for the design and construction of an intermodal transportation center that would bring together inner city passenger rail, local and regional bus services1. Focusing on creating livability in conjunction with a new intermodal transportation facility, a development plan will be proposed.  The study area is defined by Broadway on the north, 6th Street on the east, the Mississippi river on the west and Jersey Street on the south.
Quincy was founded on the bluffs of the Mississippi River to take advantage of the river commerce in 18252. As the western most city of Illinois, Quincy has developed an important history over time because of its close proximity to Missouri and the Mississippi river. Quincy has been accepting of the many people that have fled surrounding areas to seek shelter from discrimination. The city was an abolition center and one of the first stops along the Underground Railroad; tours of this historic location are available3. Due to the strong support of anti-slavery, Quincy was selected as the location for one of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 18584. The town is very proud of its heritage of strong commitment to people and community.

Economic growth encouraged immigrants to settle in this town, establishing a diverse economy to emerge. The modern economy has a strong influence from manufacturing and agricultural development5. The foundation of this commerce has allowed the town to remain prosperous even during times of crisis. Manufacturing receives support along the riverfront through its connection with the historic Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad; called “The Burlington6.” This railroad established a commercial connection from Quincy to Chicago and eventually expanded its reach west to Colorado, developing an even greater network of commerce for the town7. Due to the proximity of the river and bluffs on which the town was founded, flooding is a major design consideration for any development within the 100-year floodplain. Some of the identified study area is located within the 100-year floodplain8.  The historical and still active original rail yards are located in this floodplain.

With a consistent population of 40,000 and a typical increase average of .66 percent, Quincy is the largest city within a 100-mile radius9. Development has increased in response to the city serving as a commercial center to meet the daily needs for more than 600,000 persons in a 75-mile radius10. Tourism-related commercial activities and public parks have become a focus for development around the historic downtown and riverfront areas. In response to this increase in tourism, new entertainment, dining and lodging adaptive reuse within historic structures has begun to provide residents options for quality of life within this area11. New buildings in the downtown area include the Salvation Army Kroc Recreation Center and the relocation of the Adams County Health Department. Although these facilities provide residents with some beneficial resources, the study area is still lacking vital elements for quality of life. Urban livability combines all the factors required for a community’s quality of life - more specifically the paper will focus on the following: housing, shopping, transportation, cultural, entertainment and recreation possibilities.

1 “Quincy, IL (QCY), Station Facts”. The Great American Stations, accessed October 30, 2013.
2 City of Quincy, Department of Planning and Development. “ City of Quincy Neighborhood Land Use Plan 2013,”   
       April 1, 2013: 2.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid.
6 “About the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad.” Burlington Route Historical Society, accessed October 31,
8 City of Quincy, Department of Planning and Development. “ City of Quincy Neighborhood Land Use Plan 2013,”   
       April 1, 2013: 3. [1] City of 9Quincy, Department of Planning and Development. “ City of Quincy Neighborhood Land Use Plan 2013,”   
       April 1, 2013: 5.
[1]0 Ibid, 12.
[1]1 Ibid.

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