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Top 12 Public Squares in the U.S. and Canada

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Project for Public Spaces has ranked their Top 12 Public Squares in the U.S. and Canada.

The turnaround of Rockefellar Square is quite remarkable given where it was 20 years ago and should be an example for other cities to follow. Instead of building ever expensive sports venues that appeal to very few people and create dead zones in cities, they should focus on building good public spaces as we have in these examples. Kudo to NYC for having 4 in the top 12.

Here is the summary as ranked:

  1. Jackson Square, New Orleans, LA

  2. Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY

  3. Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, OR

  4. Campus Martius, Detroit, MI

  5. Union Square Park and Greenmarket, New York, NY

  6. Bryant Park, New York, NY

  7. Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA

  8. Portsmouth Square, San Francisco

  9. Washington Square, San Francisco

  10. Square St. Louis, Montreal, Quebec

  11. Squares of Savannah, GA

  12. Washington Square Park, New York, NY

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Project for Public Spaces has ranked their Top 12 Public Squares in the U.S. and Canada.

Here is the summary as ranked:

  1. Jackson Square, New Orleans, LA

  2. Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY

  3. Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, OR

  4. Campus Martius, Detroit, MI

  5. Union Square Park and Greenmarket, New York, NY

  6. Bryant Park, New York, NY

  7. Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA

  8. Portsmouth Square, San Francisco

  9. Washington Square, San Francisco

  10. Square St. Louis, Montreal, Quebec

  11. Squares of Savannah, GA

  12. Washington Square Park, New York, NY

I was wondering if Savannah's squares would make the list, though I quickly figured that some of America's finer public squares would push it off the chart.

Good to see Savannah getting it's recognition! I was somewhat surprised.

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That's an interesting list.

New York really does seem to be doing a great job in keeping up and improving their town squares. It's also nice to see Jackson Square at number one. :D

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How about Lafayette Square in Washington? Campus Martius in Detroit? Why?

Wouldn't the National Mall be considered a public square?

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Hmm. I would have thought Union Square for San Francisco, but I guess that is more of a shopping/touristy thing rather than a cultural use thing, so maybe not.

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How about Lafayette Square in Washington? Campus Martius in Detroit? Why?

Have you ever seen Campus Martius? It's one the greatest things to happen to Detroit in the last 40 years.

It turned an area of downtown that looked like this:

campus_martius_before_large.jpg

Into this:

campus_martius_after_large.jpg

site_plan.jpg

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034.jpg

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054.jpg

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hudkina, those are some great pics.

I've been to:

Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY

Union Square Park and Greenmarket, New York, NY

Bryant Park, New York, NY

Portsmouth Square, San Francisco

Washington Square, San Francisco

Washington Square Park, New York, NY

Does anyone have some pics of the other squares they could post so we could see them all together?

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Here is the summary as ranked:
  1. Jackson Square, New Orleans, LA

  2. Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY

  3. Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, OR

  4. Campus Martius, Detroit, MI

  5. Union Square Park and Greenmarket, New York, NY

  6. Bryant Park, New York, NY

  7. Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA

  8. Portsmouth Square, San Francisco

  9. Washington Square, San Francisco

  10. Square St. Louis, Montreal, Quebec

  11. Squares of Savannah, GA

  12. Washington Square Park, New York, NY

Interesting... I've been to many of these (minus the Savannah Squares and Detroit square) and think it's a great list. I'd move two of them down the list a bit. Rockefeller Plaza, while impressive looking, I think isn't a great public space per se and Pioneer Square in Portland (my second favorite city in North America) I think is greatly overrated. I don't think it's attractive or that it fits in well to its surroundings.

The PPS site had a list of the squares most in need of improvement:

1. City Hall Plaza, Boston, MA

2. Place de la Concorde, Paris, France

3. Occidental Square, Seattle, WA

4. UN Plaza, San Francisco, CA

5. Tate Modern Public Spaces, London

6. Pershing Square, Los Angeles, CA

7. Public Square, Cleveland, OH

8. Schouwburgplein, Rotterdam, Netherlands

9. Market Square, Houston, TX

10. Education Plaza, Washington, DC

11. Logan Circle, Philadelphia, PA

12. Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona

13. Dupont Circle, Washington, DC

14. City Centre, Mississauga, Ontario

15. Exchange Square, Manchester, UK

16. Carr

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This site has EXCELLENT pictures of the squares of Savannah. Absolutely beautiful they are.

Occidental Square in Seattle has a tone of potential. I'm not sure why it doesn't attract people as it is surrounded by a very popular neighborhood.

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Occidental is being redone.

I love Pioneer Square in PDX...probably my favorite that I've been to. The red brick is nice and being fronted by the courthouse is cool. Plus the Jackson Tower is my favorite building in PDX so that doesn't hurt.

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