The American Planning Association (APA), a group that advocates for and celebrates exceptional planning and places, has released its 2016 list of Great Places in America.
The list of fifteen is published annually at the start of National Community Planning Month in recognition of the people, planning and places that make for strong, vibrant communities.
On this year’s list in the Great Public Spaces category is Philadelphia’s own Fairmount Park. (Other categories include Great Neighborhoods and Great Streets.)
APA notes that the park is unique in being the first public space created to protect a municipal watershed. (Philadelphia drew water from the Schuylkill at the Water Works facility beginning in 1815. Industrial land use upriver polluted the water.)
Also unique is that the park’s design cannot be attributed to one single architect or planner; its evolution has been collaborative and in responsive to the changing needs of the natural environment and public. This collaboration continues with the next phase of development, the New Fairmount Park Plan, which is being drafted based on input from public meetings, surveys and interviews with residents and civic associations.
In commending the park’s design, APA shouts out some of its finest features like the homes and estates, the diverse public art, the Water Works and the Schuylkill River Trail.