A Search for a Clearer and More Useful Vocabulary for Talking About and Analyzing Downtowns

By N. David Milder

Over the past decade I have become increasingly focused on what I have been calling Central Social Districts (CSDs).  The simple analytical framework I’ve been developing saw downtowns being composed of two major components: Central Business Districts (CBDs) and CSDs. However, over the past year or so, email discussions with members of The ADRR board, and an interview by Rob Steuteville at CNU’s Public Square have prompted me to take a much closer look at the vocabulary we use to describe and analyze our downtowns. My objective in this article is to start a discussion of the topic. I don’t claim to have definitive answers, but certainly aspire to getting such a discussion off to a very good start.