Balboa Park Makes Great Public Spaces in America List

San Diego's iconic Balboa Park was ranked among one of the American Planning Association’s six "Great Public Spaces in America" in a list that recognizes 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.

“Public spaces are essential as gathering places and recreational venues in our communities, and designing them to be innovative, multifunctional, and culturally beneficial requires thoughtful collaboration and planning,” said Carol Rhea, FAICP, president of APA. “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.”

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 spaces 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.

The APA has recognized 245 places since they began the list in 2007.

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