From 1958, a piece from Fortune magazine written by Jane Jacobs called Downtown is for People.
There are, certainly, ample reasons for redoing downtown--
falling retail sales, tax bases in jeopardy, stagnant real-estate values, impossible traffic and parking conditions, failing mass transit, encirclement by slums.
But with no intent to minimize these serious matters,
it is more to the point to consider what makes a city center magnetic,
what can inject the gaiety, the wonder, the cheerful hurly-burly that make people want to come into the city and to linger there. For magnetism is the crux of the problem. All downtown's values are its byproducts.
To create in it an atmosphere of urbanity and exuberance is not a frivolous aim.
(read on Kottke.org)