Great Streets of America

The American Planning Association (APA) has announced 2012's Top 10 Great Streets. From frontier town charm to super posh and gorgeous to debaucherous this year's list has a little something for everyone. The streets are not ranked, ABC News has listed them alphabetically by city.

Main Street, Bozeman, Mont.

APA singled out Main Street, it said, for its frontier-town charm, concentration of late 19- and early 20th-century buildings, adaptive reuse of historic structures, and diversity of uses. Most of this nine-block stretch, which runs from North Broadway Avenue on the east to North Third Avenue on the west, is part of a 1987 national historic district.

Broad Street, Charleston, S.C.

Charleston's Broad Street was envisioned as the center of government and commerce when Charleston was planned in 1680. Today, "Broad Street today is that and much more," said APA Chief Executive Officer Paul Farmer, FAICP. "This is one of the most historically and architecturally significant streets in the country, a street that embraces the past while living in the present and planning for the future."

Ward Parkway, Kansas City, Mo. APA singled out Ward Parkway, one of Kansas City's most prestigious street addresses, they said, for its picturesque scenery, striking ornamentation, magnificent houses and variety of uses. The boulevard was designed by renowned landscape architect George Kessler and ambles along a "gently undulating landscape, at times paralleling Bush Creek and the Missouri-Kansas border."

Duval Street, Key West, Fla.

It may be synonymous with Jimmy Buffet and good times, but six of Duval Street's 14 blocks run through Old Town, the city's original neighborhood, which was added to the National Register in 1971. That district was expanded a dozen years later to include the remaining blocks of Duval closest to the Atlantic Ocean.

Gay Street, Knoxville, Tenn.

APA chose 10 blocks of Gay Street for their "well-preserved commercial architecture and contributions to Knoxville's economic livelihood and lively cultural scene." The organization said their orientation and amenities lure pedestrians to what was once a desolate stretch of road running from the southern end of the Gay Street Bridge to West Jackson Avenue.

Wall Street, Kingston, N.Y.

APA said Kingston's no stranger to adversity and that it's reinvented itself several times over the past 350-plus years. "Wall Street is a mixture of past and present, where historic buildings meet contemporary needs," said Farmer. "Evolving block by block, the thoroughfare is at the center of the commercial, political, cultural and religious activities that shape daily life in Kingston."

Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y.

APA said it chose Fifth Avenue for its wealth of historic buildings and districts; array of commercial, retail, residential, religious, recreational and cultural uses; and reliance on planning and zoning to guide growth. "Fifth Avenue evokes a sense of style and splendor that is virtually unparalleled in the U.S.," said Farmer. "While home to one of the world's most exciting shopping districts, Fifth Avenue is no less important as a cultural and educational mecca and architectural wonderland thanks to the city's rich tradition of planning and implementing its plans."

Grant Street, Pittsburgh, Pa.

The 11 blocks that run between Fort Pitt Boulevard and Liberty Avenue are among Pittsburgh's most frequently trafficked and a popular destination for residents, commuters and visitors, according to APA. "Our City's beautiful historic streets, buildings and landscapes are one of the reasons we were recognized by National Geographic as a top 20 'best of the world' place to visit," Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said in a statement. "Our city planners are energized by this award and are hard at work creating more livable streets to serve as the next generation of America's greatest destinations."

Broadway, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

What was once home to two dozen vacant stores is now home to an "array of municipal, institutional, commercial, cultural and residential structures," the APA noted. Nine blocks of tree-lined street between Van Dam and East Congress streets was chosen in part for its 19th-century architecture and building facade improvements.

Shaker Boulevard, Shaker Heights, Ohio

"Shaker Boulevard is an outstanding example of planning's ability to add lasting value to communities that plan, design and build thoroughfares that are both functional and beautiful," said Farmer. "True to its founders' vision, Shaker Boulevard remains as attractive for commuters today as it was during the 1920s and 1930s." He cited boulevard's balanced parks, trees that have been there for over 100 years and attributed it to the citizens who challenged "inappropriate" development proposals.

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