LAST FRIDAY AFTERNOON AT INDEPENDENCE PARK across from a block lined with quaint, mostly independent shops and two bakeries, Evanston’s Central Street neighborhood was vetted and subsequently feted by Washington, DC’s American Planning Association, having been named one of America’s 10 most livable neighborhoods.
About 80-100 people showed up in a light rain to hear speeches from several civic leaders, including Mayor Tisdahl, and a representative from the APA. Several Evanston City Council members attended the event, as did Senator Daniel Biss.
It was encouraging to hear Mayor Tisdahl mention a variety of Central Street’s attractions and landmarks, such as a
museum, two train stations, a fire station, three bakeries, and — of course — a library. She went on to describe the reality of the library and also what she feels is its greatest asset: “It’s small, it’s old, and it’s got the best Librarians in the world.”
We also learned from the gentleman representing the American Planning Association that you don’t have to be an elected official or have a special degree to be involved in civic planning. There are many volunteer opportunities across the country in this field.
According to the APA website, the criteria for selecting the 10 greatest neighborhoods in America were driven by the following set of characteristics:
- The neighborhood should have a variety of “functional attributes,” such as residential, commercial, or mixed uses.
- It should accommodate multi-modal transportation, such as pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers.
- It should have design and architectural features that are visually interesting.
- It should encourage human contact and social activities.
- It should promote community involvement and maintain a secure environment.
- It should promote sustainability and respond to climatic demands.
- It should have a memorable character.
The other nine neighborhoods chosen for 2013, in no particular order, were:
San Francisco, CA
Downtown Norwich/Chelsea Landing
Downtown Mason City
Mason City, IA
Historic Licking Riverside
Beaufort Historic District
Congratulations to Central Street, and all the other neighborhoods recognized by the APA in 2013!