Zarah Parker

Zarah Parker

The appeal of the Heights as a neighborhood might be different for everyone. For me it’s the expansive and continually growing restaurant scene.

The parking, or lack thereof, at many Heights establishments is and isn’t a problem, nor is it a new topic of discussion. Regardless, something I’ve heard to combat the parking issue is the walkability of the neighborhood.

If you live in the Heights, chances are there are plenty of restaurants or bars you can walk to without a problem. But one afternoon as I was leaving my brother’s business, which is situated on 20th Street in between Durham and North Shepherd drives, to grab lunch with him, I wondered if the walkability of the neighborhood was really a plus or just something that was used as an excuse.

I’ve always admired the Heights because of how many people walked and biked everywhere. It made the neighborhood homier in a way.

Yet when I was grabbing lunch with my brother I realized that if you were going to depend on walking to your favorite Heights spots, you had to live specifically near them. From my brother’s business locale, we could easily grab lunch from Mellow Mushroom, Velvet Taco, The Burger Joint and The Taco Stand. Hitting 19th Street or 18th Street near Shepherd for its selection of restaurants would be pretty easy, too.

Even though many of those restaurants are great places to eat, it wouldn’t be long for it to take walking to the same places to get old. Walking much further wouldn’t necessarily be out of the question, but I doubt it would happen often if it was easier to jump in the car.

When I think of the Heights I imagine it as one neighborhood with different pockets of restaurants and bars, built in a way that is really for the people who live nearby. Which sounds like a normal neighborhood, yet, I think it’s really unique to the Heights.

For example, I don’t live in Memorial, but I often am in that part of town. I’m often in other parts of town in general, but it’s only the Heights that feels like a community for itself. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

As someone who doesn’t live in the Heights, I’m looking at this from an outsider's perspective, but as someone whose primary work revolves around the neighborhood, I’m there a lot. Since that’s the case, many times before I go to a new place in the Heights, I go to Google Maps and check out the parking situation. When it’s limited parking, I go out of my way to visit a place during non-busy hours.

I do think what walkability the Heights has is still a plus for the neighborhood. You’re more likely to spot me walking in the Heights than in Memorial.

I just think it’s time to be more realistic about the whole “but you can just walk everywhere” statement I often hear about the Heights. It’s needs to be reworded: “If you live in this part of the Heights, you can walk to these specific places.”

Of course, there are people who want to walk across the whole neighborhood. To each their own, I suppose.

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