: a place or region locality
: a vicinity often referenced by its character
: the quality or state of being neighbors
: the people living near one another
Neighborhoods are a significant part of our lives. As we get older, we often reminisce about the neighborhood in which we grew up or a particularly great neighborhood we lived in at some point. Why do some neighborhoods stand out as memorable places with great character and quality of life? What is it that fosters a sense of community among the people in a great neighborhood?
Visitors to the Pullman Neighborhood in Chicago enjoy an annual house tour highlighting the neighborhood's design. photo by Tony Dzik
As part of the American Planning Association (APA) National Community Planning Month, APA has announced the winners of its Great Places Program celebrating great neighborhoods, great streets, and great public places of exemplary character, quality, and planning. Selected annually, each represents the gold standard - having a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement, and a vision for tomorrow. In this Weekly Planner, we'll look at APA's Great Neighborhoods and reflect on how a clear vision has created a and desirable place where people want to live, work and play.
A great neighborhood is functional. It gives people choices on how they access the things they need and want to do. In fact, a great neighborhood promotes activity and human interaction by its very design. It's safe, appealing and memorable in its design, architecture and character. Though quite diverse in characteristics, there is a sense of place common among this year's Great Neighborhoods:
* Highland Park
* Ansley Park
* The Pullman Neighborhood
* Gold Coast & Hamburg Historic District
* Hattiesburg Historic Neighborhood
* Dundee-Memorial Park
* German Village
* Swan Lake
Providence, Rhode Island
* College Hill
Beyond the physical characteristics, these great neighborhoods are abound with activit
y centers and celebrations. There is energy and human interaction within easy walking distance for Swan Lake's residents, who frequent Cherry Street's popular retail and restaurant corridor, featuring a regular farmers market. A sense of community abounds in the Dundee Memorial Park neighborhood, where residents and merchants have sought National Register status, funded a streetscape plan, restored historic street lamps, and pushed to be declared a neighborhood conservation and enhancement district. From quaint shops and restaurants to lovely early 20th century homes and inviting parks, the neighborhood is infused with vitality. Residents take pride and ownership in their great neighborhood and even plan, administer and staff many events including an
Multi-modal transportation choices are prevalent in great neighborhoods. Planned for those walking or bicycling as well as for transit and highway access, the the original Northbrae subdivision in Berkeley, CA - an exclusive single-family home district under the city's 1916 zoning law - was designed so every lot was convenient to a train station, connected today to the neighborhood by two local bus routes. Two bicycle boulevards, continuous routes traveling the length of the city, as well as streets with bicycle lanes, offer safe and convenient options to Northbrae's two commercial districts.
Visit APA's Great Places in America 2011 Great Neighborhoods
for details, maps and images showing why these neighborhoods represent the very best in planning. The features and characteristics they embody do not happen by accident. Comprehensive Plans are Community Plans are tools to effectively define what most distinguishes a particular community or neighborhood and how they want to capitalize on these assets as they grow. A clearly defined vision, as the product of an engaged community, can result in great neighborhoods with leaders who measure each decision against that vision.