Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

American Planning Association's annual list of "Great Neighborhoods" and cultural tourism

When I travel, I like to visit "neighborhood" or "traditional" commercial districts as part of exploring and learning about cities and places that are new to me. 

And if you work on urban, neighborhood, and/or commercial district revitalization, it's a good way to learn best practice, get ideas, and have fun. Anyway, I joke that newspaper travel sections and magazines like National Geographic Traveler are must reads for people in the revitalization field.

Since 2007, the American Planning Association has been releasing an annual list of "Great Places in America," with separate categories for "Great Neighborhoods," "Great Streets," and "Great Public Spaces," with 10 communities or places recognized in each category.

The 2012 list for "Great Neighborhoods" is:

- Baton Rouge; Garden District
- Fall River, Massachusetts; Lower Highlands & Historic Downtown
- Baltimore; Fells Point
- Grand Rapids, Michigan; Heritage Hill
- Salisbury, North Carolina; Downtown
- Philadelphia; Chestnut Hill
- Memphis; Cooper-Young
- Salt Lake City*; Fairmont-Sugar House
- Seattle; Beacon Hill
- Walla Walla, Washington*; Downtown
(* Happened to be there last month; I see from the master list of APA's Great Places program that Boise, Idaho's North End neighborhood was honored in 2008)

The webpages for each category have a short write up and some photos for each designee.


Walla Walla's resurgence has been sparked by a conversion of a goodly amount of its traditional agricultural production (wheat, onions, etc.) to grape production for wines, although it has also been the main city center for the outlying rural communities and is the home of Whitman College.

Many of the wineries have opened tasting rooms in Walla Walla, and many people from the coast visit on the weekends.

You can't tell from this photo, but this tasting room also holds concerts (we left on the day that Wanda Jackson, a rockabilly demon, was scheduled to play) and other events.

I get to learn about interesting retail-entertainment type concepts like this when I travel.  (Walla Walla also has a Goodwill in a space that Urban Outfitters would be happy to locate in.  Now all they need is a coffee shop at the front.  Plus some cool restaurants and the Macy's is still located Downtown, on the main street--after some threats from putative efforts to create some regional shopping malls, which were expected to crush Downtown Walla Walla, but the malls eventually failed.)

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4 Comments:

At 10:46 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

Going back to Birmingham, I remember this cab driver talking about Birmingham: Great town, don't want to pay the taxes.

Americans are basically cheap, and don't want to spend 5 or 6 % more for a well organized community. Those that do can create little upper middle class enclvaves.

 
At 11:44 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Just came across the work of Charles Tiebout... It is a shame about the point you make about cheapness. Tiebout was an economist, his point is that "people vote with their feet" and choose to live where the amenities meet their preferences.

Obviously, you have places like DC and places like the Towns of Chevy Chase and places in between ranging from condos and developments with HOAs and BIDs and neighborhood improvement districts of various types.

E.g. residents in Old Louisville withstand the pain in the assedness of a nationally renowned art fair (St. James) a few days a year and use the money they make on neighborhood improvements.

Similarly, DK if they still do, the food booths at the Ann Arbor Art Fair(s) are run by community organizations, and they use the money they make to support their organizational efforts over the course of the next year.

I just clipped an obit of someone (I'll have to dig it up), who was a small business retailer, who forged a path of self taxation in his biz. district/community long before BIDs, to direct money on improvements that would benefit all...

 
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