Balboa Park Receives “Great Places” Award

Known as the "Jewel of San Diego," Balboa Park is one of six "Great Public Places" highlighted by the American Planning Association

San Diego’s iconic Balboa Park received a big award Tuesday as it was named one of six “Great Public Places in America” by the American Planning Association (APA).

San Diego Councilmember Todd Gloria accepted the award on behalf of the city at a special ceremony in front of the lily pond and Botanical Building at Balboa Park honoring the historic “Jewel of San Diego.”

The award ceremony was also attended by William Anderson of the APA, Director of the City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department Herman Parker and Deborah Klochko, chair of the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership.

Gloria posted this message to his Twitter page following the ceremony:

Balboa Park was recognized by the APA earlier this month in the association’s list of “Great Public Places in America,” which names 15 neighborhoods, streets and public spaces.

In order to make the cut, each place must demonstrate character, planning, cultural and historical significance that enriches the community and helps economic growth. These sites act as important gathering places and recreational venues in communities.

“The Great Public Spaces of 2015 illustrate how to effectively create spaces that enhance the lives of residents and visitors alike, and we commend them on this tremendous achievement,” said Carol Rhea, FAICP, president of APA, when the list was first announced.

The distinction comes as Balboa Park celebrates its centennial. In 1915 the park played host to the Panama-California Exposition celebrating the opening of the Panama Canal, which defined much of the way the park looks today.


The park has played a vital role in San Diego’s history and contribution to culture. From World War II when many of the institutions were taken over by the Navy to the 15 museums and world-famous zoo that welcome thousands of residents, tourists, and students each year, the park is the artistic hub of the city: a place for relaxation, learning, and fun.

Other recognized public places on the APA’s list this year include the Santa Fe Railroad, Flint Farmer’s Market in Michigan, and Millennium Park in Chicago.

The APA is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization providing leadership in the development of communities. Since it launched this list in 2007, the APA has recognized 245 “Great Public Places” in the U.S.

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