21st & 21st: Proving that Bigger Isn’t Always Better

03 April 2014 Written by  

When it comes to neighborhoods, is bigger always better? Not necessarily. Neighborhoods that cover a larger area have certain advantages: namely, a larger pool of businesses and residents. But sometimes, a scaled-back approach can create an entirely new dynamic.

The 21st & 21st neighborhood, which cover a few small blocks around the intersection of 2100 South and 2100 East, could effectively be considered one of these micro-neighborhoods—a "micro-hood" if you will. But what makes 21st & 21st unique is that they've decided to build around an otherwise diminutive status... and I think that's a lesson we can all incorporate into our own communities. The whole may be greater than the sum of its parts, but those parts are important in their own right.

A two-block enclave of businesses surrounded by a sea of homes, the 21st & 21st Business District operates within the unique dichotomy of individual eclecticism and collective neighborhood identity. But the neighborhood's small-scale development isn't limited to the district's geographical bounds or the businesses' tight placement.

Visitors who are drawn in by the iconic Blue Plate Diner will be surprised to find niche stores such as The Write Image, KUDU: Gifts and Décor from Africa, Fun & Frolic Consignment Shop, as well as small batch roaster, The Bean Whole. These businesses further embody this notion of small size, paired with impeccable quality and eclecticism. As if shining a light on their size, the neighborhood is even preparing to unveil Salt Lake's first semi-permanent parklet in May. As innovative as the idea of a micro-park woven into an urban landscape may be, a parklet in the 21st & 21st neighborhood hardly seems out of the ordinary in a place where small-scale, close-knit, and cozy is already the norm.

Visiting the neighborhood requires you to scale back your very perception—which isn't a bad thing at all. As you zoom in, the counter effect of a limited scope is greater detail. And that perfectly describes the feel of 21st & 21st: a greater appreciation for the small details and facets that, when combined together, create a neighborhood.