I'm writing this post from Kansas City, Missouri. One of the things I find so striking here is how quiet it is downtown during the day on weekends. Part of the lack of people may be due to the 100+ degree weather, but my friend PJ who lives here says this is normal.
Compare the quiet here in Kansas City to the constant crowds that are out at all times of the day in Washington, DC or New York City. I often have trouble hearing phone conversations while on the main roads when I walk around Arlington or DC. Here there is a sort of calm settled over the downtown area until night hits and the bar scene picks up.
Downtown Kansas City. Pretty quiet until the sun sets.
One of the explanations for why it is so quiet on the streets is that there is a very car-centric culture in the Midwest. Actually, most of America is car-centric with the exception of certain large cities that have public transportation that works well. Most people just drive directly to their destinations instead of walking and biking around.
Another explanation might be that Kansas City is behind the curve with the trend in reverse urban flight. Perhaps it will take several more years of revitalization in the downtown area before there are more crowds during the day.
Anyway, this is just a quick observation of something I've noticed while out here that is different from my expectations based on living in East Coast cities. It'll be interesting to see how the 25-ish cities I'm visiting next year fit in this pattern.