11 Great Places to Visit at NPC17

The New York City metro area has it all, including 11 Great Places in America designees.

While you’re at the National Planning Conference in May, make use of your complimentary seven-day MTA MetroCard (good for unlimited rides on MTA subways and buses) to explore all that the city has to offer.

If you haven’t already, check out the full NPC17 conference program, including sessions, mobile workshops, and receptions, and make plans now to attend.

And before you go — nominations for 2017 Great Places in America designees are now open! Suggest your great neighborhood, street, or public space today. Nominations are open through May 10.


Arthur Avenue

Diners at the Arthur Avenue Retail Market. Photo courtesy the Office of the Bronx Borough President.

New York City may seem to be fast losing its diverse flavor thanks to rising rents, but Arthur Avenue is standing against the tide. It celebrates its rich Italian heritage and other cultures with restaurants, grocery stores, and shops, all in compact mixed-used buildings.


Park Slope

Bailey Fountain in Grand Army Plaza. Courtesy Olivia Klose.

The Park Slope neighborhood of today retains much of the architecture that defined it 100 years ago. Park Slope has a little bit of everything: stately brownstones, attractive apartment buildings, a farmer's market, independently owned businesses, transit, an adjoining park, and active residents, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

New Jersey

Washington Street, Hoboken

The annual St. Patrick's Day Parade is one of many occasions where Washington Street closes to car traffic for festivals, parades and celebrations. Photo courtesy Jerry Lore.

Vibrant and lively, Washington Street's unique sense of place is defined by its seemingly endless row of historic storefronts pressed against the edge of sidewalks; cross street intersections affording views of the Hudson River and New York City skyline; concentration of popular restaurants, lounges, shops, and boutiques; and connections to the Hoboken waterfront.

Essex County Branch Brook Park, Newark

People enjoy a beautiful day along one of Branch Book Park's many paths; ornamental lighting poles with buried wires illuminate the main paths throughout the park. Photo courtesy O'Brien Photography.

The nationally historic, beautifully landscaped, and highly popular Essex County Branch Brook Park is the crown jewel of the Essex County, New Jersey, Park System. As such, it plays many roles: as a public backyard for the residents of Essex County, as the playing fields for the city's 40,000 students, and as the destination for 100,000 visitors each spring who come to see the nation's largest collection of blossoming cherry trees.



Broadway at 96th Street. Photo courtesy New York City Department of Transportation.

Broadway, a metaphor for the city it runs through, has undergone many changes since Native Americans walked its path. The street is home to iconic public spaces, world-renowned cultural institutions, and an abundance of architecturally significant buildings along its 14-mile stretch. The street hosts world-renowned events for hundreds of thousands of people, houses fabric suppliers patronized by famous designers, is home to highly competitive academic institutions, and encourages shoppers to purchase anything they desire.

Fifth Avenue

The main branch of the New York Public Library, a Beaux-Arts–style, mid-'60s building, shares the block with Bryant Park, one of 2010's Great Public Spaces. Flickr photo by wallyg (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Few, if any, streets in America can claim as many architecturally significant buildings as Manhattan's Fifth Avenue. Or, for that matter, as much U.S. planning history, as many contrasts, or street addresses as famous and coveted. Extending along this one avenue are the historic streets of Harlem, the Museum Mile, the businesses and stores of Midtown, and Lower Manhattan's Greenwich Village.

Grand Central Terminal

Located in the center of the terminal's Main Concourse, the clock on top of the information booth is a quintessential New York City meeting spot. Photo courtesy Patrick Cashin / Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

When New York's Grand Central Terminal opened on February 2, 1913, the New York Times reported that it was "not only the greatest station in the United States, but the greatest station, of any type, in the world." Planning, design, and construction involved 10 years and $1 billion in today's dollars. The result is a building with 30 platforms and 44 tracks featuring innovations that influenced decades of American planning, architecture, engineering, and culture.

125th Street

The Victoria Theater. Photo courtesy Pepper Watkins.

Combine a major Manhattan transportation artery, cultural epicenter, architectural polyglot, and famed destination and the result is 125th Street in Harlem — a capital of African American cultural life since the early 20th century. 125th Street is a hub of economic, social, cultural, and transit activity for Harlem, with increasingly more walkable and livable places.

Bryant Park

Bryant Park features more than 5,000 pieces of moveable furniture, a concept espoused by Holly Whyte, which allows visitors to gather wherever they please. Photo courtesy Norman Mintz.

Depending on the time of day, Bryant Park's 9.9 acres of expansive lawn serves as a lunchroom, outdoor cinema, concert auditorium, or simply a place to sunbathe and enjoy the surroundings. Bryant Park features more than 5,000 pieces of moveable furniture, allowing visitors to gather wherever they please.

Central Park

The Sheep Meadow is a lush 15-acre lawn that offers visitors one of New York’s finest skyline views. Photo courtesy Central Park Conservancy.

For New Yorkers and tourists alike, Central Park embodies tranquility amidst chaos. Conceived during the mid-19th century as a recreational space for residents who were overworked and living in cramped quarters, Central Park is just as revered today as a peaceful retreat from the day-to-day stresses of urban life — a place where millions of New Yorkers and visitors from around the world come to experience the scenic beauty of one of America's greatest works of art.


Queens Botanical Garden

Located in the most ethnically diverse county in the U.S., Queens Botanical Garden's grounds reflect the multicultural residents who visit the garden. Photo courtesy Queens Botanical Garden staff.

From its origins as the five-acre "Gardens on Parade" exhibit during the 1939 New York World's Fair to the 39 acres it now occupies in downtown Flushing, Queens Botanical Garden is defined as much by its flora and landscaping as by the multicultural contributions and influences of the most ethnically diverse county in the U.S. Guided by its vision of using plants as unique expressions of cultural traditions, the garden demonstrates the critical linkages between local sustainability, global conservation, and traditional cultural practices as they relate to natural resources.

Top image: An evening in Bryant Park, New York City.  Photo by Flickr user Jason Kuffer (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

About the Author
Dustin Calliari is APA's marketing and promotions coordinator.

March 2, 2017

By Dustin Calliari