2017 Pennsylvania Great Places

Congratulations to the 2017 Great Places in PA Award Winners!

The Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association is proud to announce our Great Places for 2017 in two categories: Great Public Spaces and Great Streets. Great Places are unique, memorable places that work not only for their community, but as a model others want to emulate – places of exemplary character, quality, planning, identity, cultural interest, and community involvement with a sustainable vision for tomorrow.

Public Spaces

Aspinwall Riverfront Park (Allegheny County)
Aspinwall Borough residents led a grassroots effort to reconnect their community with its Allegheny riverfront and to link it to Western Pennsylvania’s expanding trail system. The result was a master plan for 11- acre Aspinwall Riverfront Park, which opened in 2015.  The Park offers many amenities, including a riverfront promenade, spontaneous play area, boardwalk, “raindrop gardens,” amphitheater, wellness trail, limited-service marina, welcome center, restrooms, and kayak rentals. More broadly, the Park exemplifies sustainability through brownfield redevelopment, green infrastructure, a hierarchy of material palettes, and reuse of demolished building materials and old curb stones as trail base, benches, and tables. It is the place to be for families and has captured the public’s imagination as one of the most memorable greenspaces in the Pittsburgh region.

Fountain Park and Bandstand Park (Venango County)
The 1795 urban plan for Franklin City included an extra-wide main street bordered by two spacious parks in the heart of the City. Fountain Park and Bandstand Park provide the setting for the twin-spire Italianate Venango County Courthouse and together these treasures form the downtown cornerstone. Fountain Park’s most prominent feature is the 1896 Egbert Memorial Fountain, while Bandstand Park’s is the 1866 Venango County Civil War monument and the bandstand itself where Franklin’s Silver Cornet Band has been playing for over 160 years.  In the early days, the parks, known as the “diamond,” featured pastures, gardens, gathering places, and a playground, as well as a training ground for militia. Today, the Parks remain a popular place for bench sitting, people watching, strolling, chess matches, and picnicking. They are also the hub for many celebrations, festivals, and events that attract 175,000 visitors annually. 

Karl Stirner Arts Trail (Northampton County)
The 2.5 mile Karl Stirner Arts Trail (KSAT), in the City of Easton, follows the Bushkill Creek and connects Scott and Riverside Parks, Centre Square, and Lafayette Colleges’ William Arts Campus with SILK, a mixed-use creative redevelopment community complex. This unique hiking and biking Trail, developed through a partnership between the City, Redevelopment Authority, and Lafayette College, showcases works by internationally and nationally acclaimed artists, as well as local and regional artists. Karl Stirner, the Trail’s namesake, was a renowned formalist sculptor and Easton resident. His unnamed sculpture, known as the Karl Stirner Arch, holds a place of honor on the Trail. The KSAT presents educational and inspirational possibilities for residents, visitors, and students, including workshops and classes with artists and environmentalists. People of all ages frequent the Trail, which encourages the entire community to find resonance and meaning in art and nature.


North Beaver Street, York 
The unit block of North Beaver Street, in York City, serves as the bustling hub of the downtown. It is home to Central Market and is flanked on both ends by anchors of the dining and nightlife scenes.  In between is an eclectic mix of gift shops and boutiques, a “Creative York” art gallery, and an eatery with a beautiful outdoor café.  During monthly First Friday and other community events, the street is closed to traffic and becomes a pedestrian concourse for family friendly activities, ranging from a York Buy Fresh Buy Local City Street Dinner to Go Green in the City. Beaver Street is adorned with brightly colored parking meters painted by high school students; the public art of Patrick Sells, including flower planters, benches and bike racks; and painted art pieces that are part of York’s Playful Sidewalks initiative. In essence, Beaver Street is York City’s “Main Street.”  

State Street, Media
Media Borough has a pedestrian friendly downtown with a thriving commercial district and one of the few main street trolley lines remaining in the country. State Street is the primary downtown street and is a hub of activity year-round. By offering small, one-of-a-kind shops, several of which sell original artwork by regional artists, sophisticated-casual restaurants, grocery stores, and a professional music theater, it is able to compete with nearby malls and strip shopping centers.  Additionally, a farmer’s market pops up by the theater from May through October.  A variety of social activities, ranging from Dining Under the Stars, Second Saturdays, and the Media 5 Miler to music festivals, street fairs, and festive holiday parades bolster community spirit and enthusiasm for sustainability.

A special thanks to our 2017 Great Places judges

Chair of Great Places Initiative: Pam Shellenberger, AICP, York County Planning Commission

Julie Fitzpatrick, Assistant Director/Special Projects Coordinator
PA Downtown Center

Tom Hylton, Founder
Save Our Land, Save Our Towns Inc.

Sidney R. Kime, Jr., RLA, FASLA, Studio Director
The ELA Group (Lititz)

Doniele Russell, Deputy Director of Community Development
Lawrence County

David Schwartz, PE, AICP, PP, Associate

Jim Segedy, FAICP, Director, Community Planning + Design
The Planning Guild

Kim Wheeler, AICP, Deputy Director
Lycoming County Planning & Community Development

Peter Wulfhorst, AICP, Extension Educator
Pike County Extension, Ag Entrepreneurship and Economic & CD Extension Team