Small Streets Around the World: Québec City, Canada

Because small streets are the hallmark of places designed around people who travel by foot, in nearly every country, if you go to the centers of the oldest cities and towns, you will find a core of small streets.

Eight years ago in Québec City, I experienced a car-free place of small streets for the first time. Also having French-Canadian ancestry, the place holds a special place in my heart. J.H. Crawford, author of Carfree Cities, produced this beautiful video of Petit Champlain, the car-free district in Québec City. He writes,

North America has exactly one decent example of a carfree district: Petit Champlain in Quebec City’s Lower Town. This is the oldest urban area on the continent and provides an example of just how pleasant it is to spend time in places without cars. It’s also a model for a more sustainable world. Spend five minutes finding out what it is, how it works, and why it’s a model for the future.

The Piscataquis Village Project, located a four-hour drive from Québec City in Central Maine, is largely based on this model of placemaking. Learn more at

Small Streets Around the World: Ballyshannon, Ireland

It’s been a mighty long time since I’ve last posted here on the Small Streets Blog. I spent my last semester of my graduate program writing a history of a small street in Baltimore. While I plan to share some of that work on the blog in the future, for now I would like to think more globally. Because small streets are the hallmark of places designed around people who travel by foot, in nearly every country, if you go to the centers of the oldest cities and towns, you can find a core of small streets.

In our first post of a series that will look at small streets in countries around the world, we’ll travel to the town of Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland. With archaeological sites dating back as far as the Neolithic period, Ballyshannon lays claim to being the oldest town in Ireland. Today it’s home to 2,500 people.

Ballyshannon, Ireland

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Castle Street, around 30 feet wide, has a mixture of houses and businesses. The brightly-colored Dicey Reilly’s Pub makes clear to passers-by that if you want a Guinness, it’s the place to go. Rowhouses are the primary form of housing here. Though the architecture shares a common aesthetic, the details of the buildings vary enough that this would be an interesting place to walk and explore. Castle Street opens up to a large, inviting square.

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The street known as The Mall, just off the Main Street, is slightly narrower. In order to make space for cars, the space for people has unfortunately been reduced to only a couple of feet on either side. It’s just enough for someone to open the front door.

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West Port is one of the town’s narrowest streets at approximately 20 to 25 feet wide. It looks like a quiet residential street. Though the street is shaded at this time of day, the houses’ gabled roofs help to balance living space and sun exposure.

I encourage you to explore more of the town!

Charleston’s Small Streets, Part II

In our last post, we took a stroll down Tradd Street, a leafy small street in Charleston, South Carolina. As small streets go, Tradd was on a wider side at approximately 28 feet. In this post we’ll walk down a much narrower street. See it?

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Longitude Lane was supposedly built on a line of longitude, but it runs east-west, so its true origins are a mystery to me.

Longitude Lane

Yep, it’s got a real street sign and all! You can tell that it was designed to fit a horse and carriage by the brick tread paths.

Longitude Lane

Walk a little further and you find that this small street has houses on both sides! Like Tradd Street, there’s plenty of greenery. Window boxes, planters and palms. This is a very fine-grained urbanism.

What would it be like to walk a city where every street was this narrow?