Local News

Downtown Raleigh: 'Can You Find Me Now?'

Posted July 11, 2007

— For newcomers, for some repeat visitors — even for some people who have lived here for years — it can be tough to navigate downtown Raleigh.

The city is taking steps to make sure the millions of people who visit Raleigh every year can find what they came to see.

"It's a confusing area,” pedestrian Jack Barry said.

Experts won’t argue with him.

"People get really lost downtown," said Elizabeth Alley of the Urban Design Center. "For first-time visitors, it's very easy to get turned around."

Take a sample itinerary: Moore Square to the Capitol and stop by the Courthouse. "If I were not familiar with it, I wouldn't be able to find it," Barry said.

"Once you got off the Beltline, there weren't any wayfinding elements taking you to the downtown area," said Robert Brengman, a senior designer at Corbin Design.

The city paid Brengman and his consulting firm $200,000 to come up with ways to help people find their ways around.

"When we're done and the system is implemented, the No. 1 thing we want to see eliminated is complaints," Brengman said.

The $1.5 million wayfinding project will guide people from the Beltline to downtown, highlighting all the major attractions

"We want people to feel confident in their journey, find parking and feel comfortable as a pedestrian exploring our city," the design center’s Alley said.

The city’s goal is to have the signs approved and in place by the late summer of 2008, just in time for the opening of the new convention center and a nearby hotel.

The design phase of the project is expected to last until August. The city has a Web site that shows the work so far.


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  • hedgy_one Jul 12, 2007

    I am a Raleigh native & I love this place. The signage cost really IS a joke! What a waste of $$s. What we need is some place to park without having to pay so much & that is convenient to places to go. I needed to pick up something at the Courthouse last week & rode around for 30 minutes looking for an on street place to park before I gave up & (finally) found a deck that didn't have a "Sorry, Full" sign on it.... It cost me $1.00 for less than 30 minutes of parking! Bummer.

  • Nancy Jul 12, 2007

    "dont know a single place downtown that I want to visit unless it is the mayors office so I can give him a couple lessons in fiscal management and control."

    LOL! Need a lift? Let me know, I'm sure between us we could keep him busy through lunch at least ;0

  • turnpike420 Jul 12, 2007

    You all love Raleigh, that's great. I'm Raleigh native, and I love Raleigh. This sign thing seems a little crazy... there aren't any "major" attractions. There's no zoo, no aquarium, etc... maybe something the Dix property can offer the city?

    Either way, all the northerners who have come here and love it so much, please help keep tolls OUT of this state. No Tolls on 540 is a grassroots movement. http://www.notollson540.org for the online petition and information on how you can write local politicians and express that we do NOT want tolls on 540. They've already successfully circumvented the Fed Trans. Dept. by renaming the road NC540 instead of what will one day be a complete loop that was supposed to be I540.


  • superman Jul 12, 2007

    They need to publish a list of downtown attractions. I have lived here for over 40 years-- and I dont know a single place downtown that I want to visit unless it is the mayors office so I can give him a couple lessons in fiscal management and control.

  • Arkansas Razorback Jul 12, 2007

    iamforjustice-----why don't you travel on and try to find a city with no gay people. That was an ugly thing to say. Do you have any other targeted groups? Fat people maybe?

  • iamforjustice Jul 12, 2007

    Downtown Raleigh is very nice. Nice crowd at nite time. Very cultural. Not too many gay people like Atlanta. Very friendly people. I love Downtown Raleigh.

  • freidi Jul 12, 2007

    If only Cleveland was this easy......Home of endless one way roads, myriads of signs and potholes that will keep your car in the repair shop for days. We love Raleigh!

  • Nancy Jul 12, 2007

    I've driven in many major cities up and down the east coast and Raleigh is by far one of the easiest because it is laid out primarily in block grids.

    I don't have an issue with signage but the money spent is extreme to accomplish something that need not be that expensive.

    I have more problems with the idiocy of signs on the beltline when you have four road signs, 440, 40, 1, 64 all with different compass directions and you're being told you're on all of them at once. Now that's insane LOL!

    I used to travel with my job and the only places I had trouble navigating while driving was NYC and Raleigh's beltline. But as to the city, it's small and easy to manuever.

  • smegma Jul 12, 2007

    Time to fix something that isn't broken. Waste $200,000 on more signs that point you every way except where you want to go. It's DOWNTOWN, how hard can it be? They are BLOCKS. If you miss your block, go up on more, turn left, go up one more, turn left, go up one more, turn left, and wahlah. What was it someone said one time about people from the north not being able to drive? :)

  • TheLogicalOne Jul 12, 2007

    My wife and I have been "downtown" more since we moved here than we ever ventured "downtown" in Philadelphia, NY, whatever. We like going to Moore Square for example. There is actually an IMAX within reach of where we live. We feel safer in Downtown Raleigh than we ever have in any other downtown setting. We have yet to see people yelling at themselves in the streets, we have not been acosted by beggers, and the people in Raleigh, and NC in general are more courteous and friendly. I.E. this is why we moved here.

    I agree, if you think Raleigh is backwards, then go back to wherever you came from. Maybe once your go back, you'll realize what a great place this is to live.

    We went back to Jersey to visit family and could not wait to leave. We immediately felt the high tension level of the people around us.

    I feel we should be spending more money on making the City even better than just putting up signs.