New Haven Green
New Haven, Connecticut
Historical sites abound in New England, but few boast as rich a history as the New Haven Green. Established in 1641 as the marketplace of the Puritans' New Haven Colony, the Green has seen much in its 365-year-plus history. General George Washington spoke here during the American Revolution. The Amistad captives were exercised here, Abraham Lincoln gave a presidential campaign speech, and rallies were held during the Vietnam War and civil rights struggles. Easily accessible by bus, car, bicycle, and pedestrians, the Green is the city's public gathering place.
The Green's one-acre expanse of grass and foliage has witnessed significant Dover events dating back more than 300 years. A clue to The Green's Colonial-era heritage comes from the buildings surrounding the rectangular-shaped park. The Green has witnessed the passions of revolutionaries, the birth of a nation, deep divisions along Union and Confederate lines, and a ghostly burial. Today it is part of Dover's downtown business improvement district and is surrounded by a mix of uses that keeps things going nearly round-the-clock.
The Squares of Savannah
The original four squares of Savannah date to 1733 and were a distinctive part of James Oglethorpe's plan for the city. Eventually squares were located in the center of each of the city's 24 neighborhoods or "wards." The foresight of Oglethorpe's design continues to provide an extraordinary example of how public space provides a timeless and lasting amenity to a community. Very much used and beloved, the squares are essentially public "living rooms" where residents and visitors alike go for morning and evening strolls, afternoon games and activities, and special events and celebrations.
Just 60 acres when it was developed in 1860 from land housing Chicago's only cemeteries, Lincoln Park today is the largest of the 552 parks in the "City in a Garden." Each year more than 6.5 million people visit the park on Lake Michigan. The zoo, arboretum, theater, and museums are major draws, and water covers roughly a fifth of the park's 1,208 acres. Citizen activism is what led to creation of the park, and today, citizen groups work to identify issues of concern.
Located just steps from Charlevoix's bustling business district, East Park combines a well-connected downtown community space used year-round by residents and visitors with all the beauty of Round Lake's sparkling waters. In 2007, the lakefront park was redesigned with a large grassy area, trees, benches, and brick sidewalks. Besides attractive landscaping, the park now has an interactive water fountain for children; a rebuilt performing arts pavilion with natural acoustics; a trout pond with pools, rapids, and waterfalls; and a 65-slip marina.
The Grand Rounds
The Grand Rounds is the nation's only urban-based National Scenic Byway. It is part of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board's 6,400 acres of trails, lakes, parks, and recreation facilities. The parkways and paths are divided into seven segments and together form a nearly complete loop through Minneapolis as they connect 14 natural lakes, three creeks, two waterfalls, and the Mississippi River. Because of careful planning and strategic land acquisitions, all waterfront and rights-of-way around the lakes, creeks and river segments are in public ownership.
Keene, New Hampshire
With a postcard-perfect view from Main Street, Central Square is the iconic and geographic heart of downtown Keene. As the city's soapbox and cultural hub, Central Square has been part of the fabric of life here for more than two centuries. The site comprising the square has served as a common since the city's third meetinghouse opened in 1760. To ensure the square's continued vitality, the city encourages a mix of uses in the area and has regulations to protect the architecture of buildings across from the park and allow new structures consistent with the existing design.
Queens Botanical Garden
Flushing, New York
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.
Central Market dates back to the founding of Lancaster, when Andrew Hamilton laid out the original town plan in1730 and included a lot in the center for the town square and an adjacent lot to be used in perpetuity for a market. Nearly 280 years later, Lancaster Central Market has remained in continuous operation in the same location — making it the oldest such marketplace in the country. To help the market remain competitive as well as repair and maintain its building, the city completed a Central Market master plan in 2005.
Virginia Beach Boardwalk
Virginia Beach, Virginia
The seemingly endless horizon stretches for miles beyond the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. Built originally from wooden planks during the nation's Gilded Age, the five-block promenade attracted thousands of Victorian vacationers. Today, more than 2.2 million people visit the three-mile-long concrete boardwalk each year and it is an integral part of the City of Virginia Beach's economy, which relies heavily on tourism. As such, the boardwalk has been the focus of numerous improvement and planning efforts, the most recent of which explores extending a light rail line from Norfolk to the boardwalk.