A single sidewalk can make a huge difference

It’s not often when one can witness the palpable difference infrastructure can make on the micro level. However, a small summer cottage beach neighborhood on Lake Wawasee, Indiana presents just such an opportunity. Here, the Natti Crow Beach neighborhood installed a lakefront sidewalk between the beach and the cottages facing the lake many, many decades ago. Few other areas fronting this 3,000 acre water body have a sidewalk on the lake side connecting multiple parcels.

Children’s chalk art on the sidewalk

One may ask, so what? The so what is that this sidewalk has helped foster a sense of place, camaraderie, and community. Why? Because it allows the residents and their guests residing along the sidewalk corridor to mingle, to get to know one another, and to build relationships without feeling like they might be trespassing. It is essentially a narrow public conduit of community placemaking.

Birthday parties, family reunions, playdates, neighborhood gatherings, and holiday celebrations are each interconnected to one another by means this narrow path. Youngsters have learned how to ride their bicycles and tricycles along here. Even marriages have resulted from young people socializing along this sidewalk. It is truly a unifying linear connection.

If a single sidewalk extending across a dozen or so parcels has such an enormous effect on a summer cottage community, imagine what networks of sidewalks are capable of doing elsewhere?

  • They unite neighborhoods;
  • They link residents and residents to nearby businesses and services;
  • They enhance safety;
  • They foster communication;
  • They build/extend fitness and health;
  • They enhance property value;
  • They provide walkable and in some cases bikeable corridors of transportation; and
  • In a nutshell, they build and foster “community”.


This entry was posted in Active transportation, Advocacy, art, bicycling, Biking, civics, Communications, culture, entertainment, family, fun, health, hiking, history, humanity, inclusiveness, infrastructure, lakes, land use, pictures, placemaking, planning, product design, recreation, spatial design, third places, transportation, urban planning, walking and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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