American Planning Association Designates Jim Thorpe’s Broadway a Top 10 Great Street for 2013
Natural Beauty, Architecture, Preservation Singled Out
The American Planning Association (APA) announced the designation of Broadway as one of 10 Great Streets for 2013. Each year during National Community Planning Month APA’s Great Places in America program names 30 exemplary streets, neighborhoods and public spaces to highlight the role planning and planners play in adding value to communities, including fostering economic growth and jobs.
APA singled out Broadway for its eclectic mix of architecture, the Swiss-Alps-like scenic beauty of the Lehigh River Valley that surrounds the street, measures by the town to stop the street from regularly flooding, and efforts by residents and local businesses to strengthen the town’s tourist economy.
“We got a really good start with an excellent plan and revitalization program 30 years ago,” said Jim Thorpe Borough President Betsy Ahner. “Since then it is a testament to the commitment of resident and property owners that has brought us to where we are today,” she added.
“Visitors have been drawn to Jim Thorpe’s scenic beauty since the late 19th Century,” said APA Chief Executive Officer Paul Farmer, FAICP. “Remarkably, the unique Victorian mansions along Broadway Street’s ‘Millionaires Row’ still remain, faithfully restored by the current owners who recognize the value and importance of their homes to the town’s tourist-based economy,” he added.
Jim Thorpe, a company town originally named Mauch Chunk, was founded and built by Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company owners Josiah White and Erskine Hazard after anthracite coal was discovered in the Lehigh valley in 1791. By the mid-1800s the town was on the threshold of its most prosperous era when the town’s wealthiest families built a collection of expensive mansions on Broadway. The homes represented an eclectic mix of architectural styles -- from Italianate and Second Empire to Queen Anne, Romanesque and Classical.
Flooding from Mauch Chunk Creek was a constant threaten to the town and once water reached the second floor of the Carbon County Courthouse on Broadway Street. The issue was finally addressed by constructing a dam in 1972 – the same year Hurricane Agnes hit and brought enough rain that Broadway would have suffered $2 million in damages had the dam not been built.
Since Jim Thorpe was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, individual property owners have taken the initiative to restore many of Broadway’s historic buildings including the magnificent Inn at Jim Thorpe. Originally the New American Hotel, it was built by Cornelius Connor where his White Swan Hotel stood before it was destroyed by the town’s 1849 great fire.
APA’s Great Streets, Great Neighborhoods and Great Public Spaces feature unique and authentic characteristics that have evolved from years of thoughtful and deliberate planning by residents, community leaders and planners. The 2013 Great Places have many things Americans say are important to their “ideal community” including locally owned businesses, transit, neighborhood parks, and sidewalks. They illustrate how the foresight of planning fosters communities of lasting value.
The nine other APA 2013 Great Streets are: North and South Walnut Street, Milford, DE; Palafox Street, Pensacola, FL; Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI; Bridge Street, Las Vegas, NM; C Street, Virginia City, NV; Market Street, Corning, NY; Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA; The Strand, Galveston, TX; and West Beverley Street, Staunton, VA.
For more information about these streets, as well as APA’s top 10 Great Neighborhoods and top 10 Great Public Spaces for 2013 and previous years, visit www.planning.org/greatplaces. For more about National Community Planning Month taking place throughout October visit www.planning.org/ncpm.
The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning -- physical, economic and social -- so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. Members of APA help create communities of lasting value and encourage civic leaders, business interests and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people's lives. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, Ill. For more information, visit www.planning.org.