What Makes a Neighborhood Great?

photos by Charlie London

Good places promote sociability
These are the spots where you run into people you know, where you take friends and family when you want to show them the neighborhood. These places become the heart and soul of the neighborhood because they offer people many different reasons to go there.

Good places have lots of things to do
The places people love most are the ones where they can pursue a variety of activities.

Good places are comfortable and attractive
They beckon you to come visit. Flowers, comfortable benches with a nice view, and attractive lighting all make you feel this is a place you want to come to often.

Good places are accessible
These places are clearly identifiable from a distance, easy to enter when you get closer, and it is simple to understand how you use them.

Good places capitalize on the Power of 10
Think of the 10 most important places in your neighborhood. It could be the main shopping street, a park, playground, an interesting shop, a library, post office etc. Zoom in and think about one of these places and try to write down ten fun or useful things you can do there. The Power of 10 is the simple but important idea that the more things there are to do in a place, the more beloved and central that place will become in your neighborhood.

Good places are inspired by the people who live there
The big question is, of course, how do you begin to create the good places that every neighborhood craves? What process can you use to build spots where people want to hang out? Long experience has shown us that bottom-up rather than top-down strategies to create or revitalize public spaces work best. This approach is based on the simple idea that the people who live in a neighborhood are the world’s experts on that particular place. Any project to improve things should be guided by the community’s wisdom, not the dictates of professional disciplines. This is the most important lesson about making great neighborhoods we have learned in 30 years of work.

This article is from the Project for Public Spaces.

About the author
Charlie London
  • Get in touch is a community service of Charlie London. Charlie London is the Content Strategist for Faubourg St. John. Click on the icons above this text for more. Even more information is available at Links to the original article (when applicable) are provided in the post.