2012

Bienville Square

Mobile, Alabama

Located in the heart of downtown Mobile on the former site of a Spanish hospital and named for the French Governor of Louisiana, Jean Baptiste de Bienville, the square is where the city's history, architecture, and commerce converge. One of a unique handful of federal holdings relinquished by Congress in 1824, the square's history predates that of Alabama. It is surrounded by a diverse array of architectural styles, from late Victorian to Neoclassical. It is where President Theodore Roosevelt spoke during a visit in 1905 and the site of today's most popular holiday celebrations and festivals in the city.

Characteristics, Features, and Map

Cesar Chavez Park and Plaza

Sacramento, California

One of the oldest parks in California, Cesar Chavez Plaza has shaped downtown Sacramento's development since 1849. At that time, city founder John Sutter, Jr. dedicated 10 "public squares" for "the public use of the inhabitants of the city." Nine of the 10 remain in use today, and Cesar Chavez Plaza is one of them. One hundred sixty-five years of city planning have preserved the space with its cross-axial walkways, central fountain, and views of the historic civic skyline.

Characteristics, Features, and Map

Washington Park

Denver, Colorado

Both historic and contemporary, Washington Park combines majesty with the practical. It is a jewel among Denver's 200-plus urban parks — a place where historic buildings, flower gardens modeled after George Washington's estate, extensive tree groves interspersed with meadows, two lakes, and great views of snowy Mt. Evans create a wonderful experience for visitors. First developed by Denver city architect Reinhard Scheutze in 1899, the park's design has been influenced by numerous local and national figures, including city planner George Kessler, the Olmsted Brothers, and the renowned philanthropist "The Unsinkable" Molly Brown.

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Chicago Union Station

Chicago, Illinois

As one of the downtown's most iconic structures, Chicago Union Station represents both the city's outstanding architectural tradition and its historic role as a national rail hub. Completed in 1925 following construction delays caused by World War I, the station underwent a series of major renovations after Amtrak took full ownership in 1984. There were sustainable retrofits and a 1992 change to the underground space to better accommodate growing passenger volumes and consolidate amenities in a redesigned food court.

Characteristics, Features, and Map

Chicago Botanic Garden

Glencoe, Illinois

What was once degraded land polluted by highway construction has for the past 40 years been home to the Chicago Botanic Garden, a 385-acre living museum with 2.5 million plants, 26 distinct display gardens, and a robust program of research, education and public outreach. Attracting nearly a million visitors each year, the Garden is Chicago's seventh largest cultural institution and 12th largest tourist attraction.

Characteristics, Features, and Map

Jackson Square

New Orleans, Louisiana

Situated between the oldest continually operating cathedral in the United States and the city's peaceful riverfront, Jackson Square serves as a gateway to all New Orleans has to offer.  Designed in the image of Paris's oldest planned square, the Place des Vosges, the iron facades surrounding the square blend seamlessly into the old Spanish city hall, creating a uniquely New Orleans feel. Grand walkways wrap around the central statue of President Andrew Jackson, for whom the square is named, leading pedestrians to the French Quarter's alleyways and the waterfront "Moonwalk."

Characteristics, Features, and Map

Village Green

Bar Harbor, Maine

The ritzy summer resort town of Bar Harbor, Maine, once home to aristocratic families including the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Astors, contains the lush Village Green in its historic core. During the city's Gilded Age, the short-lived Grand Central Hotel occupied this corner of Main and Mount Desert streets, but changing times led to the hotel's demolition and the land's rebirth as public space in 1899.

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Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park

Portland, Oregon

Catalyzing the revival of the Portland, Oregon, riverfront, Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park is a hallmark of the city's storied planning tradition. The park was born out of Gov. Tom McCall's 1968 Harbor Drive Task Force, which called for the closure of Harbor Drive Freeway and a return to the pedestrian-oriented principles laid out in 1903 by the Olmsted Brothers in their park plan. Since 1978, the 30-acre park has served as a green urban greeting to residents and visitors alike. The park was developed in five phases, ending in 1989.

Characteristics, Features, and Map

Buffalo Bayou

Houston, Texas

Called "Houston's Central Park" by Mayor Annise Parker, Buffalo Bayou has shaped the city's development since the Allen Brothers laid Houston's street grid along the bayou's course in 1836. From influences by renowned architect George Kessler to works by premier local artists and sculptors, Buffalo Bayou provides the finest landscaping and design features Houston has to offer.

Characteristics, Features, and Map

Ritter Park

Huntington, West Virginia

Ritter Park, created in 1913 by Rufus Switzer, a city council member who would go on to become mayor, is the oldest and most used park in Huntington, West Virginia. An award-winning rose garden and exhilarating playground are two of the many amenities that attract locals as well as tourists from the entire tri-state area to this tranquil piece of land set in the hills overlooking the city. Widely considered the "Crown Jewel of Huntington," the 100-acre-plus Ritter Park enjoys both summer and winter use thanks to seasonally covered tennis courts and a sledding hill for when it snows.

Characteristics, Features, and Map