Top 100 Public Spaces in the U.S.

What are the best public spaces in the United States? Great public spaces are where celebrations are held, social and economic exchanges take place, friends run into each other, and cultures mix. In your mind, which public spaces best accomplish these tasks, and more importantly, meet that elusive goal of being a place that people hold dear? We've seeded the list with a few suggestions, but we're looking to you to bring the best places to our attention. As places get posted, vote for your favorites! Each user gets up to 10 votes to use as they wish.

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Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia

Rittenhouse Square is one of the five original squares from William Penn and Thomas Holme's 17th century plan for Philadelphia. Originally surrounded by brickyards, by the second half of the 19th century the neighborhood around the Square became the most fashionable residential section of the city. Some Victorian mansions still survive on the streets facing the square, although most gave way to apartment buildings after ...more »

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Church Street Marketplace District

Historic, award-winning Church Street Marketplace -- www.churchstreetmarketplace.com -- is nestled in the heart of downtown Burlington,Vermont – Vermont’s largest city and a commercial and community center for the region. Retail space is nearly 100 percent occupied by national and local retailers and restaurants, complemented by residential and commercial ...more »

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Waterloo Public Square

Situated in the heart of UpTown Waterloo, Ontario, this innovative, multi-use square has quickly become a focal point for the community since it’s opening in 2009. The design incorporates a timeless amphitheater style with excellent accessibility features and the flexibility to host 2000 person concerts, 50 person workshops and anything in between with ease. The Waterloo Public Square is centrally located for access ...more »

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Star Plaza, Cleveland OH

Star Plaza, an outdoor urban park located in the center of the PlayhouseSquare District, is home throughout the year to many special events and annual celebrations. The Plaza, also known as the ninth stage in PlayhouseSquare, is wi-fi activated and presents an array of live performances and activities for the summer lunchtime crowds.

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Senn Park and Unity Garden

Although Senn Park may not be a particularly well-known trademark of Chicago, it is certainly well loved by the surrounding neighborhood of Edgewater and is a great public space that invites both locals and non-locals to enjoy its vibrancy and charm. The Senn Park Unity Garden is an especially striking feature of the park. The vision for and upkeep of the space is mostly credited to the local neighbors, students, families, ...more »

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Director Park, Portland OR

A public plaza in the heart of downtown Portland, small in scale (.46 acres!) but packed full of impressive features: a wading pool, covered seating area with movable chairs, cafe, public restrooms, and a gaming area, all connected to the street at the same level and managed by a friendly caretaker to boot. Truly an urban park for the people.

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San Francisco Ferry Building/Farmers' Market

San Francisco's revitalized Ferry Building has the advantages of spectacular scenery, unique vendors and impressive historic architecture. During the weekend, it is unbeatable as a location to people watch and nosh happily while perambulating. The constant presence of street performers and toddlers is a great indication of how safe and vibrant the Ferry Building feels.

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Cleveland's West Side Market

Cleveland's West Side Market is the oldest public market in Cleveland and one of the finest in North America. It is a place of diversity and heritage, and provides the City and region with fresh foods at reasonable prices. The West Side Market is a public asset, architectural landmark and is unique to Cleveland; it connects Cleveland's past, present and its future, as it is one of the primary drivers of a sustainable ...more »

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Ira Keller Fountain - Portland, OR

Ira Keller Fountain Video: This 1 acre downtown Portland Fountain from 1970 may not be the most classicallly beautifully thing ever, but it does evoke the crashing Oregon streams and rivers nearby and is a wonderful place to passively engage with (reading a book) or actively engage with (splashing around). Well designed into the site it is a great little pocket amid the 70's ...more »

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Pike Place Market, Seattle

This market is an international treasure. It speaks to a trend in cities that markets, if managed effectively, can weather change over time, economic cycles, and be a catalyst for transformation in the area.

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Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn, NY

Brooklyn Bridge Park is a world-class, 85-acre sustainable waterfront park being constructed along Brooklyn's East River. The park offers fantastic views of New York Harbor, lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge.

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