Ask Garden District residents what distinguishes their neighborhood and they are likely to mention the select group of large Live Oaks that are individually inducted into the Live Oak Society, historic residential architecture so well maintained that movie and television producers use it for sets, families who have held on to their houses for up to six generations, the area's rich soil that once grew sugar cane and now supports private gardens, and cherished memories of growing up and living in the Garden District.
Fall River's unique and distinctive Lower Highlands/Historic Downtown neighborhood has seen good times and bad, rising during the early 20th century as the city became the country's top-ranked textile producer and then falling when the cotton mills began to close and the city declared bankruptcy in 1931. These trials and several others, including three devastating fires and construction of a freeway through the heart of downtown, have altered but not defeated the neighborhood. With its sweeping topography, historic architecture, and stunning vistas of Mount Hope Bay, the Lower Highlands/Historic Downtown neighborhood still retains its unique character and indelible sense of place.
With stunning views of the inner harbor, impressive late-18th and early-19th century architecture, and streets bustling with people and traffic all day long, Fells Point is one of Baltimore's premiere waterfront neighborhoods. During its first century Fells Point, initially developed by landowner William Fell in 1761, went from a forested agricultural area into a shipbuilding and commercial center where some of the U.S. Navy's first ships were built, including the USS Constellation. After the War of 1812 and the British bombardment of Fort McHenry, the neighborhood became the country's second most popular port of entry for immigrants and surpassed by only Ellis Island in significance.
Grand Rapids's oldest neighborhood, endowed with 1,300 historic properties representing more than 60 architectural styles, Heritage Hill has experienced ups and downs in its 170-plus years. No years were more perilous than the late 1960s and early 1970s when the city recommended razing 75 percent of the neighborhood for downtown urban renewal. The demolitions didn't occur, largely because of efforts by residents who formed the Heritage Hill Association (HHA) in 1968 and sought changes in state enabling legislation that allowed municipalities to adopt local historic preservation ordinances.
Salisbury's picture-perfect historic downtown has done well by its community and master plans produced during the past three decades. Among the results: $117 million in investments, a thousand new jobs, nearly 300 restored or renovated buildings, and numerous awards. Achieving these outcomes has involved unwavering community pride, major gifts by several local philanthropists, and sustained efforts by city officials, downtown businesses, and volunteers who organized the Historic Salisbury Foundation in 1972. The group would go on to buy, restore, and sell more than 100 properties, including three local landmark buildings it still owns.
In his 1975 report to the Chestnut Hill Historical Society, well-respected preservationist Arthur P. Ziegler, Jr., of Pittsburgh wrote, "Without question, Chestnut Hill remains one of the most beautiful residential areas in the United States." It was not only important to save the neighborhood's architecture, he said, "but the landscaping. Rarely does one see such a fine collection of great trees and shrubs."The neighborhood's landscaping, known as "The Wissahickon Style," has been emulated throughout the country. Following the topography of the land to shape the neighborhood, this style of landscaping relies on the use of native plants, Wissahickon schist and fieldstone, and other materials of the Wissahickon Gorge, which formed the neighborhood's southwestern boundary and encompasses today's 1,400-acre Wissahickon Valley Park.
Eclectic, free-wheeling, and bohemian is how some residents describe their Midtown community, which got its start in 1890 as a working-class neighborhood and today finds itself one of Memphis's most popular areas that is both keeping long-time residents and attracting new ones wanting a close-in urban address. Built out by the 1930s, Cooper-Young remained stable until the end of World War II when an exodus began to the eastern suburbs, leaving blocks of historic buildings bought on the cheap by out-of-town investors who rented the properties but made few repairs, furthering the neighborhood's decline.
There's so much to Fairmont you might call it a mini–Salt Lake City, an east-side community with a commercial center so vibrant it's often referred to as the city's second downtown. Fairmont affords awe-inspiring views of the Wasatch Mountains and connects to city founder Brigham Young through a park that was part of Young's forest farm.Known at one time as the "Furniture Capital of the West" because of a concentration of furniture stores, the neighborhood now has hundreds of small businesses, a shopping center, and an expanding cultural arts scene with galleries, theaters, and public art, including the historic, 1930 obelisk on Monument Plaza.
Spend some time on Seattle's Beacon Hill and you'll find a dynamic and engaged community where your neighbors are just as likely to be Chinese, Japanese, or Vietnamese as they are to be black, white, or Hispanic. This diversity is exemplified by North Beacon Hill, a neighborhood-scaled commercial node with stores providing goods for many cultures and restaurants serving Asian, Hispanic, and other ethnic foods and where nearly three-fourths of residents are people of color, almost half are foreign born, and 60 percent speak a language other than English at home, according to 2000 census data. Modest housing, nearby jobs, a streetcar to downtown Seattle, and restrictive covenants in other parts of the city all helped to draw immigrants and people of color, especially Asian-Americans, to Beacon Hill in the 1950s.
What residents, businesses, city officials, and local organizations in Walla Walla have achieved since 1980 when they began implementing their plan to rehabilitate and revitalize their downtown neighborhood has been nothing short of profound. Results include more than $50 million in private and public funds to preserve and improve nearly 300 neighborhood buildings; national awards for having revitalized Main Street, their business and commercial corridor; and exponential growth of the region's newly established wine industry that now generates $100 million a year for the city and region.