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Map of Charles Street

Map of Boston

Boston is known as one of the oldest cities in the United States. It was founded in 1630 by Puritan settlers from England. Since its founding, Boston’s geography has went through major transformations due to annexations of nearby municipalities and, more dramatically, in the creation of new landforms in ambitious landfill projects. The city became an important port and manufacturing hub, as well as a centre for education and culture after the United States gained independence from Great Britain. The street pattern of Boston resembles more of a European street pattern compared to American Street pattern. The roads are mostly narrow, winding streets and many are paved with uneven street.The skinny streets cast entirely in the shadow of their tall buildings. The angled alley in the area gives out a mysterious vibe is it will disappear at a turn and make you curious about what at the back.

Antique design of shops in

Brick streets as part of the

Gas lanterns as decorations

Charles Street

decoration in Charles Street

along Charles Street

Charles Street is located in Boston, Massachusetts. The street is a part of a neighbourhood called the Beacon Hill which consists of only around 12,000 people in the area. The buildings are highly dense with many narrow streets of one-direction. The architectural style of Beacon Hill are mostly Colonial Revival, Greek Revival and Federal thus the street is famous among tourist due to its charming decoration such as cobblestone, brick streets and gas lanterns which gives an old world, classic vibe when walking around the area .Furthermore, Charles Street in particular, mostly caters businesses for the local community such as restaurant, antique shops, boutique, clothing store and few other formal businesses such as banks and post office. It is a one way street which furthers continue to the north side of the area.

Public transport usage in Charles Street

The Boston Common parl

Most of the residents do not own a car as they can walk to work in the downtown area and some prefer to use the public transport to travel around town. Charles Street also only has one main grocery shop where most locals will come and get their necessary things. Due to it being a shopping and dining district, lots of intentionally and unintentionally contact points can be seen created along the streets and due to it being a one way street, pedestrians and people who rides the bicycle can use the pathway safely without worrying about any unwanted accidents to happen. As the street continues to the south side of the area, it crosses the Beacon street and the street expand to form the boundary between Boston Common and Boston Public Garden which is a recreational area for the residents around Boston to come and enjoy their free time. Before proceeding to the Boston Common and Boston Public Garden, one have to go through the busy junction of the neighbourhood, as it is the intersection between 2 main streets which are Charles Street and Beacon Street. The Boston Common and Boston Public Garden offers a variety of activities for locals or tourist to enjoy such as having picnic, playing tennis, watch a baseball game, ride bikes and even have a sighseeing of the historic landmarks at the site. The old buildings in Charles Street are well preserved by having mixed businesses use for the ground floor and residential use for the upper floors. It helps to maintain the quality and history of the building.

Map of Petaling Street

Map of Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur known as the capital of Malaysia, was a typical pioneer town which started around the 20th century. Petaling Street which is known as one of the famous street in Malaysia is located in Kuala Lumpur. The area started as a tin mining area and was governed by a Chinese Kapitan named Yap Ah Loy, a Hakka. Due to flood problems, the original Chinatown was located at Jalan Tun Hs Lee due to the street is located higher than the rest of the town thus most of the shophouses with nice decorations were built there instead of Petaling Street. The street pattern of Petaling Street is more of an irregular pattern which the roads will connect to one another allowing easy circulation. The street also allows permeability in between buildings through the small alley this way it creates a shortcut for the users to walk along Petaling Street.

One of the stalls in Chinatown

Entrance of Central Market

Buildings around Petaling Street

The architectural style of Petaling Street is mostly eclectic architecture which have mixtures of the Baba Nyonya architecture, Chinese architecture, Art Deco and colonial shophouses. Nowadays, the area around Petaling Street is famous among tourist as it is where the Chinatown and Central Market is located. The name Chinatown was given because of the majority of the race that occupied the area and as it resembles a small Chinatown where as Central Market is known as a place where tourist will be able to get the finest souvenirs and somehow an introduction to Malaysia as it sells traditional crafted decorations, clothes and many more. Furthermore, through out the street of Petaling Street few famous restaurants can be seen which managed to attract people to come to the area where as inside the Chinatown famous hawker stalls by the road sides are taking over the place. Petaling Street caters businesses such as clothing shop, accessories shop, art shop, hawker stalls, hotels and formal businesses such as banks and colleges.

Guan Di Temple

Sri Mahamariamman Temple

Sin Sze Si Ya temple

The site is usually packed with tourist due to its cheap item and historical buildings. The site also offers tourist attractions such as Guan Di Temple, Sri Mahamariamman, Sin Sze Si Ya Temple and Masjid Jamek. The shophouses in Petaling Street are unfortunately not well preserve as the ground floor is use for businesses but the second floor are left abandon or even is being used by the foreign worker as a place to stay but still in bad condition. The exterior of the building gives a bad visual to the people due to the broken mirror and some of the foreigners hanging their clothes outside the building.

According to Jahn Gehl, necessary activities are those that are more or less compulsory which those involved have no choice but have to do the activities. In general, everyday tasks and pastimes belong to this group. For examples, the activities include are going to school or work, shopping, waiting for a bus or person,running errands, distributing mail. Jahn Galh also stated that this type of activities will take place throughout the year, under nearly all conditions, and are more or less independent of the exterior environment.

De Luca’s Market

US Post Office

Diagram of De Luca’s Market

Diagram of people crowding outside the bank

showing the activities going on outside

creating a social activities

In both site, it can be seen that both area almost have the same necessary activities happening. The differences are only the intensity of the contact point at the places. For instance in Charles Street, De Luca’s Market is the only grocery market located in the area, thus, it is a must for the people of Charles Street to go the market and buy their necessities. Due to it being the only market in Charles Street, the social interaction between the people might be high as they probably have establish a relationship with the store’s owner. Some of the items are also being display outside of the store at the street, this will create chances of having a low intensity such as passive contacts or even chance contacts as probably the passer by might know some of the buyers who are picking up items outside the store. Furthermore, other necessary activities that can be seen at Charles Street are going to the bank and post office. The bank and post office is located in one of the buildings at Charles Street, thus the chances of creating a contact point might be high. Due to the location, some of the people prefer to wait outside at the street instead of inside the building itself, as they prefer to enjoy the street scape outside. Two main mailboxes are also located outside the post office which will probably create a chance of contact between the postman collecting mails and people sending their mails. The places are only crowded with people during morning till evening as the bank and post office will be close by 5pm.

People waiting for busses and LRT

Public open space near the bank

Where as, the necessary activities that can be found in Petaling Street are students attending their classes at the nearby colleges, people waiting for the busses and Light Rapid Transit (LRT) heading or coming from their destination and formal activities such as going to the bank as well. Located along the busy street of Petaling Street, students walking around the area heading towards the colleges will give a chance in creating a passive contacts such as “see and hear” contacts while passing through the shops at Petaling Street. Furthermore, necessary activities such as waiting for busses and LRT at the created bus stops somehow acts as a contact points for the people in Petaling Street as these station will be the main arrival and depart area for people who are using public transport. Varying degree of contact intensity at this area can be seen as lots of people are gathered at this station. Near the station, there is a public open space with trees popping in the middle which also acts as a contact point for the users. The seating area was designed in a circular manner to allow the people to view the surrounding and cater to some people who prefer to look at the busy human circulation at the station. Other than that, when people are doing the necessary activities such as going to the bank in Petaling Street, they are offered a public open space before reaching the bank to allow the people to enjoy the scenery or streetscape of the area. It also creates opportunity to allow contacts to happen such as chance or acquaintances contacts when people are using the public spaces. Both cities offer almost similar type of necessary activities but different in terms of the environment. The necessary activities that is happening is Petaling Street allows a higher chance of creating opportunity for contacts due to having public open space designed in the middle of the area where as the places in Charles Street is more secluded and small thus the chances of contacts are a bit low. Based on Jahn Gahl text in ‘Life Between Buildings’, he mentioned that if activity between buildings is missing, the lower end of the contact scale also disappears.

Tatte Café located at the junction of the street

Optional activities happening at Boston Garden

Diagram showing optional and

Diagram showing potential

Diagram showing optional

social activities happeneing

of contact occurring due to same interest

activities happening at site

Optional activities means the activities will only take place when the exterior conditions are optimal, when weather and place invite them. (Jahn Gahl, 1986) Optional activities such as taking a walk, sitting, sunbathing, going for a picnic will only happens when the weather permits and suits the mood of the people. Optional activities closely relates to the quality of the physical environment as it needs the people to be able to enjoy the outdoors pleasantly. Lots of optional activities can be found in Charles Street as it is a nice residential neighbourhood street thus lots of optional activities can be seen happening around the area. For example, few benches in front of the ice cream stall at the street are being placed to allow the people to enjoy eating the ice cream while seating at the street. Furthermore, the Tatte Café at one of the junction offers an outdoor area to allow the people to face the street while having their meal. This activity will only happen when the weather permits. The location of the outdoor café facing towards the junction allows low intensity, passive contacts between the people and the passer by and it also somehow became a social activities. Due to the good quality of the physical environment, the people at Charles Street might do optional activities such as walking the dogs or take their babies out for a stroll on the street. Although it is a spontaneous action, it can lead to a possibility of several level of intensity such as acquaintances of friends due to the people might have the same interest or preferences such exchange talks about dog or babies related.

Optional activities happening at site

Moreover, towards the south side of Charles Street, there are two different parks located which are the Boston Common and Boston Public Garden. Both parks are separated by the Charles Street which continues down to the south. Due to it being a park, lots of optional activities can happen such as enjoying picnics, riding bicycle, seating at the provided bench which mostly are facing the sceneries and field to allow the people to sit around and enjoy the view and many more. The optional activities that can be seen happening around Charles Street allows users to be with other people in a peaceful and simple way.

Hawker stall at the road side

People sitting around the public space near the bus stop

Where as, the optional activities around Petaling Street can be seen at along the street of Chinatown when people will just wander around the open area to find good items that they can buy. According to Jahn Gahl, activity as attraction can happen whenever there are people in buildings, neighbourhoods city centre and so on and he also stated that people attracts people. Due to Chinatown being a tourist centre, people might get attracted to come to Chinatown due to the amount of people filling up the street. Furthermore, hawker stalls along Chinatown also creates an opportunity of low intensity contact such as passive contacts as the tables and chairs of the restaurant is placed at the road side and gives a visual connection between the people walking and eating.

Kasturi walk which offers variety of food and goods

Benches are offered outside the temple to allow user to use

Optional activity happening at 5ft walkway in Petaling Street

Most of the people walking along Chinatown will stop at the hawker stalls as a break point before continuing their journey. Other than that, people would also go to the tourist area such as Guan Di Temple, Sri Mahamariamman and Sin Sze Si Ya temple which provides benches outside the temple. These places act as a point of contact in Petaling Street due to it being a tourist and local landmark. Due to being located close to the Central Market, most of the workers from the bank will walk through the Central Market known as the Kasturi Walk before and after going back from lunch due to varieties of food offered in the area. It also creates chances of acquaintances or even established relationship between the people and the people at the site or with the owner due to frequent visits. Both cities offer different type of optional activities due to the location of the site. Charles Street is located at a neighbourhood area where the people at the site are quieter and the atmosphere is calmer and the optional activities offered are more family friendly compared to Petaling Street which is located in the middle of the busy street of Kuala Lumpur and due to the dusty, dirty and hot weather optional activities offered are a bit different.

Social activities happening around Charles Street

Diagram showing activities happening at Charles Street

Diagram showing activities happening at Charles Street

Social activities happening at Petaling Street

Social activities as being described by Jahn Gahl means all activities that depend on the presence of others in public spaces. It could also be as low as simply seeing and hearing other people. The activity develop in connection with other activities because people are in the same space, meet,pass by one another or merely within view. It shows that, social activities are indirectly supported whenever necessary and optional activities are given better conditions in public spaces. (Jahn Gahl, 1986). In both cities, social activities can be seen happening when necessary or optional activities happening involves people within the area. However, the chances of having proper social activities going on at Charles Street is higher due to proper area such as parks, benches outside store, cafĂŠ at junction of the street and items selling at the street. These activities allows better social interaction between people as the places are establish and easier for people to socialize where as in Petaling Street, the places are busy and noisy and not much of a proper space is provided to allow better social activities to happen at the street or publicly accessible spaces.

To be concluded, due to the location and history of the sites, both places offer the activities in different environment. Charles Street is located in a residential neighbouring area where the ground floor of the building is located for shops where as the upper floors are located for residential, thus the activities and shops there are well taken care off and well planned. The atmosphere is also calmer and everything happening is at a slow pace. Furthermore, due to having two big open parks near the end road, it allows proper optional activities to happen for the people to enjoy during their free time where as the the history of Petaling Street talks about the area being a traders area thus the street is really busy and noisy due to the shops are trying to attract the customers thus social activities do still occur but in a more tough manner. It will be hard for people to enjoy peaceful and quiet scenery or atmosphere due to it being located at the busy street and Chinatown. Even so, Petaling Street does have it charms to offer to people and some open spaces for people to sit and enjoy the area. Petaling Street,in Chinatown in particular offers people to stopped at the street and look at the items selling due to it being display at the street. In the end, both cities are able to give a sense of ‘life’ between the buildings to allow the users to experience the spaces along the street instead of offering dull streets.

REFERENCES 1) A Short History of Boston's Beacon Hill. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2016, from

2) Experiencing the City through its Street Patterns - Opencity Projects. (2015). Retrieved November 15, 2016, from

3) Gehl, J. (1987). Life between buildings: Using public space. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

4) Quintessential Boston: A Walk Down Charles Street. (2015) Retrieved November 15, 2016, from

5) Teng, Y. Y. (2015, January 23). Busy street loaded with history. The Star Online. Retrieved November 15, 2016, from

6) The Victoria Institution - The School at the River Bend. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2016, from

Comparative analysis essay  
Comparative analysis essay