03. The Notorious R.D.S. aka Reindeer Dog Stands

"Street vendors facilitate pedestrian movement."

When the angle of the summer sun begins to rise in the sky Anchorage's food vendors slowly start to populate the streets. You can see them lined on 4th avenue to catch tourists or placed at strategic intersections for the working population. While Anchorage's vendor population is comparatively low to other cities you can still see the positive affects that street vendors have on an area:

  1. Vendors provide a visual interaction for passersby.

  2. Vendors facilitate and attract pedestrian traffic

  3. Vendors serve as a buffer between street traffic and pedestrians

In Anchorage, you can see tourists and locals lined up at the stands along 4th avenue while passersby navigate around these lines. The visual affect that this has on the street is a bustling downtown Anchorage. And in the summer it is. In the winter these streets are generally quiet and when they lack daylight and people, can sometimes be ominous to navigate. People attract people, these people also provide eyes on a street giving an element of safety and making more people feel comfortable to come out and walk the streets.

Anchorage provides some great activities in the winter. The city and constituents also do a good job of promoting people to get out into the restaurant scene through incentives. Some of my favorite moments from these streets are winter activities such as a street festivals and the ceremonial start of the Iditarod. Going out to a nice dinner downtown in the winter is also a treat. The street lamps illuminate the snow creating a glowing winter wonderland in contrast to the dark sky. I wonder if there is some way that we can attract people outside of these events. How can we increase the activity level?

  • Would elements of warmth provide a good way to keep a group of R.D.S. around? As well as provide a meeting location for pedestrians?

  • Would spilling bazaar vendors out into the streets and sidewalks during the holidays help? (City permitting around this would be a hurdle).

  • Can some streets close off to provide cross country ski trails? Fat tire bikes? (Think of starting a ski along the coastal trail into down town for dinner).

  • Can a parking lot become a Christmas tree lot?

  • Can we bring first Friday out onto the streets and sidewalks with sculptures? (Beyond the beautiful ice sculptures in town square).

  • Stores should stay open throughout the winter. Including tourist stores. This is pertinent to providing life to the streets. Vendors would be more apt to locate in front of an operating store.

I lived in Germany for a little while growing up and I recall winter weekend activities included going to outdoor markets bundled up. We would wander between people with hot apple cider and a potato pancake topped with apple sauce to warm our hands and bellies. The weather is slightly milder there, but I wonder how other cities, our sister cities in latitude spend their winters? Reykjavík, Iceland seems to be a positive example. Finland could provide a good case study.

I love Alaska in the summer, winter, snow, and shine. I want more of it and more wonderful experiences.