American Planning Association Designates Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway a Top 10 Great Street for 2013
Noted for French Influence, Monuments, $23 Million Reinvestment
The American Planning Association (APA) announced the designation of Benjamin Franklin Parkway 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 Benjamin Franklin Parkway for being a “cultural mecca” of sorts given the breadth and stature of the museums and educational institutions located on the parkway; for the parkway’s Parisian influence and iconic sculptures; the parkway’s alignment and design, which connects city hall with Fairmount Park; and the city’s ongoing parkway improvements and investments.
“The City of Philadelphia is committed to connecting our visitors and residents to one of the most important civic and cultural spaces in the City: the Benjamin Franklin Parkway,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “Over the past few years, we renovated Logan Circle, invested in upgrades to Aviator Park, re-made Sister Cities Park, completed streetscape and landscape improvements, and implemented a plan for a more vibrant Parkway. When all of the projects in the plan are completed in 2014, the total investment made will be $23 million. This investment will improve the Parkway as the heart of Philadelphia’s civic life,” Mayor Nutter said.
“Benjamin Franklin Parkway is an iconic boulevard, on the scale of the Champs-Élysées in Paris,” said APA Chief Executive Officer Paul Farmer, FAICP. “The parkway, where some of the country’s most celebrated institutions are found, completely changed the face of Philadelphia by giving the densely compact city breathing room,” he added.
Conceived in 1871, the parkway was inspired by the City Beautiful movement of the late 19th Century. Completed in 1926, the parkway has become the city’s “cultural mecca” given the number and stature of the art galleries and educational institutions on the boulevard including the Franklin Institute, Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rodin Museum and the Barnes Foundation.
The parkway’s comparison to the Champs-Elysees and references as “a little slice of Paris in Philadelphia” have merit. French architects Paul Cret and Jacques Greiber’s worked separately on the street’s plan, each calling for generous amounts of green space through the use of wide medians, parks and two large traffic circles -- Eakins Oval and Logan Circle.
The parkway not only attracts more than 3 million visitors a year, but it also serves as the front yard for 20,000 apartment dwellers and the civic space for major celebrations and events.
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; Broadway, Jim Thorpe, 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.