Seattle was absent from the American Planning Association’s 2008 Great Places in America list but Boise and Portland both made a showing. Last year, the Pike Place Market made the Great Neighborhoods list.
This year, Boise’s North End Neighborhood was ranked among the 10 Great Neighborhoods and Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square was ranked among the Great Public Spaces by the American Planning Association.
I think it makes sense for Seattle to make the list every year. Still, I’m pleased to see other great Northwest spaces make the cut.
Pioneer Courthouse Square serves at once as Portland’s Grand Central Station and Times Square. It’s sandwiched by Max tracks, hosts public concerts and protests and has built-in chessboards and benches that are popular to the homeless, businesspeople and tourists.
Thirty years ago, it was a parking lot. Portland’s 1972 Downtown Plan proposed the square and in 1982 the group “Friends of Pioneer Square” raised $1.5 million to make the project happen.
Boise’s North End is a great close-in neighborhood that allows most of its residents a 10 minute walk to downtown Boise and is home to some great old houses.
It has its own little walking district, Hyde Park, that’s peppered with little shops and restaurants. Neighborhoods with strong identities are common in Seattle and Portland, but in Boise, the North End really stands out. In terms of its architecture and walkability, it’s similar to Queen Anne.
Also on the list this year: New York’s Central Park, Wichita’s Old Town, Washington Street in Boston and the Santa Monica Beach.