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Best City Square

bocian

Cyburbian
Messages
212
Points
9
Well, taking backroads CAN be rewarding, even if it's in Indiana. I drove to the East Coast from Illinois a few weeks ago, and I took the backroads through most of Indiana. When I came to downtown ANGOLA (small city in N/E Indiana), I was shocked (positively) to see its great downtown city square. It was not car-free, but it had a nice monument in the middle of a small park, roundabout, plenty of benches to sit on, and awesome local businesses in the square.
What I'm getting at is this: the idea of a square in the middle of a city is nothing new: most European and South American cities, for example, have one, usually in the middle of their historic downtowns. However, in North America the "Business Districts" lack pedestrian scale, contain more parking lots than anything else, and are basically unattractive and uninviting.
So, what's your favorite downtown square in North America? (Hard question, I know, there aren't many around..)

Downtown ANGOLA, INDIANA:
www.commercialindiana.com/images/steubenco.jpg
 

Greenescapist

Cyburbian
Messages
1,169
Points
24
Although it's not a small town, Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA is really nice. I had the day off yesterday and walked around there to check out some used bookstores and record shops. Great people watching, plenty of benches, incredible architecture and public transportation.

For small towns, some places that I can think of now and thought had nice squares or little downtowns were Camden, ME; Wiscasset, ME; Lexington, VA; Lexington, MA; Gorham, ME.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
East Troy Wisconsin has a great city square. Too bad its a godforsaken little trap.
 

bocian

Cyburbian
Messages
212
Points
9
Harvard Square in Cambridge is great not beacause of how it looks like, beacause it is too small to be a "real" city square, but precisely because of the qualities you mentioned, such as plenty of people hanging around, places to shop and visit, etc.

Still, it's more of a smaller scale shopping mall for upscale people than a city square (which should also contain the city hall and PUBLIC TOILETS).

Now, to think about it, I'd say that downtown city square in Bloomington, Indiana is not so bad.
Indiana... who would have thought???
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
Points
25
You'll find that a lot of towns in the south have town squares. Two that I'm familure with are in Pendleton, SC - a pretty and vibrent little village next door to Clemson. And Abbeville, SC which was featured in the Julia Roberts flick Sleeping with the Enemy, and the place that tried to hire me as county planner last year (but I needed some time away from small towns).
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
Messages
1,551
Points
24
There are lots of small downtown squares in Midwest towns, some great, some not so great. Woodstock, IL, Spencer (I think), IN, and Bloomington, IN come to mind.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Great Topic!

Some of my favorites include:

Market Square in downtown Knoxville, TN. A classic market square. Haven't seen it in over ten years, but even in a downtown as sleepy as Knoxville's, it was a nice focal point for the city. I even like the oppressive bureaucratic towers of the Tennessee Valley Authority looking over the one end-architecture should be honest :)

Union Square in downtown San Francisco-I like the newest version a lot-with the exception that the balance between hardscape and greenery is skewed a bit too much to the former. A very active city square.

Sonoma Town Hall Square-a classic. Unfortunately, the great market system CAN be destructive, and downtown Sonoma is only good for buying teddy bears and overpriced tourist stuff.

A better example (gentrified but still somehow more real): Healdsburg, California. North of Santa Rosa. A fantastic town square with gigantic old trees, a fine collection of yuppie boutiques, a brew pub, great restaurants, and its not only for yuppies-Healdsburg has a great passagiato (sp) for the Mexican-American community.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
And all the squares in Savannah. Especially the one with Vinnie Van GoGo’ s Pizza on it.

As my wife put it…

“I think they put drugs in the pizza, you just cant stop eating it…”
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Huston is right about Savanna. Pete-Rock forgot to mention that Woodstock, IL is where the movie "Groundhog Day" was filmed, so most of you should have an idea of what that one looks like. Lebanon, TN has a nice square, though they had paved too much of it and the stores were struggling at the time I was there.
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
24,908
Points
52
Jasper, Indiana
Boonville, Indiana
Princeton, Indiana
and many other smaller towns.
 

LouisvilleSlugger

Cyburbian
Messages
216
Points
9
Greenescapist said:
Although it's not a small town, Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA is really nice. I had the day off yesterday and walked around there to check out some used bookstores and record shops. Great people watching, plenty of benches, incredible architecture and public transportation.
aaah, Harvard Sq. and Brattle Sq., those are some great squares!!! great for people watching. I miss that area of Cambridge. I am also fond of Fountain Sq. in Cinci and Pioneer Sq. in Portland.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
Saint John, NB has a few squares. the nicest one is Kings Square Uptown. It has a gazebo for a band, lots of mature trees and is fronted on one side by a restored 1890's theatre and 1920's skyscraper (15 stories). On another side it is framed by teh City Market building and on another side it is framed by the original fire station and loyalist cemetery. it also houses a statue of benedict arnold.



I guess I should put a plug in for our town square too.



Is is relatively nice, just not too busy. Unfortunately it is where most of our dilaudid addicts hang out and cause troubles.
 

ilikefish0

Cyburbian
Messages
204
Points
9
Jackson Sqaure, New Orleans

St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Brewery, museums, French Market, artists, fortune tellers, magicians, bands

They even put back the benches.
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,890
Points
26
pete-rock said:
There are lots of small downtown squares in Midwest towns, some great, some not so great. Woodstock, IL, Spencer (I think), IN, and Bloomington, IN come to mind.

goto your dvd collection and pull out groundhog day... welcome to woodstock, il
 

Greenescapist

Cyburbian
Messages
1,169
Points
24
gkmo62u said:
Washington Square Park in NewYork.

Best.
....square in NYC for buying drugs. Washington Square Park is nice, but I've never had so many guys come up to me and whisper "weeeeeed, weeeeed are you looking for some?"
 

Super Amputee Cat

Cyburbian
Messages
2,119
Points
28
bocian said:
Well, taking backroads CAN be rewarding, even if it's in Indiana. I drove to the East Coast from Illinois a few weeks ago, and I took the backroads through most of Indiana. When I came to downtown ANGOLA (small city in N/E Indiana), I was shocked (positively) to see its great downtown city square. It was not car-free, but it had a nice monument in the middle of a small park, roundabout, plenty of benches to sit on, and awesome local businesses in the square.
What I'm getting at is this: the idea of a square in the middle of a city is nothing new: most European and South American cities, for example, have one, usually in the middle of their historic downtowns. However, in North America the "Business Districts" lack pedestrian scale, contain more parking lots than anything else, and are basically unattractive and uninviting.
So, what's your favorite downtown square in North America? (Hard question, I know, there aren't many around..)

Downtown ANGOLA, INDIANA:
www.commercialindiana.com/images/steubenco.jpg
Hey! I was just in downtown Angola this weekend. Very nice town. Can't believe they have two movie houses right in the square both still in operation (The Brokaw and the Strand)

If you ever stop there, try the Pizza at Greek's. It's delicious!





 
Last edited:

tsc

Cyburbian
Messages
1,905
Points
23
Greenescapist said:
....square in NYC for buying drugs. Washington Square Park is nice, but I've never had so many guys come up to me and whisper "weeeeeed, weeeeed are you looking for some?"
hmmm .....been there a lot and never been approached.

I love the open spaces of Boston though.... Cambridge is nice... and there is one on the North Side... forget the name.
 

SW MI Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
3,195
Points
26
Hey, Angola is only 13 miles south of me, and we go there quite frequently. You guys should have called me and we could go for a beer (ok, or a root beer for me, but anyway).

:)
 

SW MI Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
3,195
Points
26
Coldwater, Michigan. I69 cuts through the east end of town - we're exit #10

Speaking regarding public squares - we don't really have one per se, but we do have four corners park, kind of in the middle of downtown where US-12 and Business 27 intersect.
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,146
Points
35
Monument Circle

Gotta put a plug in for Monument Circle in Indianapolis -- perhaps one of the greatest public spaces without the reputation. Truly a circle, the visual centerpiece is the Soldiers and Sailors Monument commemorating Hoosier Volunteers in the Civil War. Heroic art to be sure, but very successful (except when they string the stoopid Christmas lights from it make it look like an X-mas Tree. Blechhhhhhh!!)

The original plan called for the Governor's Mansion to be built on the circle, but the First Lady objected to hanging her laundry to dry smack in the middle of the city and state. Wise lady, that one.

Indiana generally has a lot of successful town squares, including some nice ones here in southern Indiana, such as Corydon (Harrison County); Salem (Washington County); and, my favorite, Paoli (Orange County), with its marvelous Greek Revival courthouse and hillside setting.

My Indiana city lost its town park (never had a true town square) to Interstate 64 and an Ohio River bridge.
 

Kathie_WE

Cyburbian
Messages
34
Points
2
The town centers of SouthCentral, PA started with some very nice town centers including Lancaster, Gettsburg, York, Hanover, Abbottstown, Elizabethtown, Lititz, and Red Lion. Too bad sprawl and too many small governments have made the new communities around less then wonderful places.

CHEERS!

Kathie
 
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