Top 100 public spaces in the U.S. and Canada

The best public space in the U.S. and Canada isn't in a big coastal city. Find out where it is.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor

There's been plenty of buzz lately around New York City's new park, The High Line. But is it the best public space in the U.S. and Canada?

According to Planetizen and Project for Public Spaces the best public space in the U.S. and Canada isn't in a big coastal city. It's in Normal, Ill.

Their list of the best public spaces was gathered through a crowdsourced survey that asked people to nominate great public spaces in their communities and then vote on them.

The project with the most votes, known as The Circle, is a traffic circle near prime locations in Normal, Ill.: a university, a museum, an Amtrak station, and a downtown shopping district. This centrally located gathering spot improves the flow of traffic, while providing green space and a fountain that recirculates storm water. Here it is:

And here are the public spaces that made the top 10:

1. The Circle in Uptown Normal, Ill.

2. Temple Plaza, New Haven, Conn.

3. Campus Martius Park, Detroit, Mich.

4. Cal Anderson Park, Seattle, Wash.

5. CityArt Walking Sculpture Tour, Mankato, Minn.

6. Bryant Park, New York, N.Y.

7. Pittsburgh Market Square, Pittsburgh, Pa.

8. Arts District at Bay Street, Bellingham, Wash.

9. Balboa Park, San Diego, Calif.

10. Church Street Marketplace District, Burlington, Vt.

Explore the rest of the top 100 here.

The idea wasn't to make an objective list, organizers said, but to find out which public spaces get people excited enough to rally around them:

Passion was the rule of the day for our Top 100 Public Spaces survey project. From the beginning of our crowdsourcing project, it became clear that rather than an impartial list of the most revered, tested and acclaimed public spaces in the U.S. and Canada the results would reflect an impartiality. The residents of New Hope, Minnesota (#22 on our list) rallied to let the world know about their Community Farmers Market, "our "front porch" where we take a moment to chat with our neighbors, enjoy life's simple pleasures, and eat food," says their website.

It's a fitting way to determine the best public space since a good public space should bring people together to help build a vibrant community.

Photos: Scott Shigley via project designer Hoerr Schaudt

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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