Celebrating the best of America’s urban parks

From the green to the groovy, the quintessential to the quirky, Project for Public Spaces (PPS) are honoring the best of American urban parks through its 2003 Great Parks/Great Cities Awards. The awards are sponsored by Metropolis Magazine.

The 2003 Great Parks/Great Cities Awards recipients are:

Great Parks / Great Cities Award
Central Park, New York, NY

Great Community Place Award
Duluth Town Green, Duluth, GA
The Village of Arts and Humanities, North Philadelphia, PA

Best New Park Award
Little Turtle Waterway, Logansport, IN

Catalyst Award for Urban Park Leadership
ParkWorks, Cleveland, OH, under the leadership of Ann Zoller

Honorary Award
Elizabeth Barlow Rogers

The short-list for the Great Parks/Great Cities Award 2003 are:

Great Parks / Great Cities Award
Balboa Park, San Diego, CA
Boston Common and Public Garden, Boston, MA
Central Park, New York, NY
Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, PA
Mt. Tabor Park, Portland, OR
Squares of Savannah, Savannah, GA

Great Community Place Award
Anderson River Park, Anderson, CA
Breckenridge City Park, Breckenridge, TX
City Heights Urban Village, San Diego, CA
Days Park, Buffalo, NY
Duluth Town Green, Duluth, GA
The Village of Arts and Humanities, North Philadelphia, PA

Best New Park Award
Allegheny Riverfront Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Augustus F. Hawkins, Los Angeles, CA
Hastings Park, Vancouver B.C. Canada
Hull Park and Grand Traverse Children’s Garden, Traverse City, MI
Little Turtle Waterway, Logansport, IN
Travis Elementary School ‘Dinosaur’ Park, Houston, TX

Catalyst Award for Urban Park Leadership
Valerie Burns, Boston Natural Areas Network, Boston, MA
Mayor Joe Riley, Charleston, SC
Ann Zoller, Parkworks, Cleveland, OH
Memminger Project, Charleston, SC
Asset Based Community Development Institute, Evanston, IL
Friends of Patterson Park, Baltimore, MD
The Heidelberg Project, Detroit, MI
Piedmont Park Conservancy, Atlanta, GA
Pittsburgh Park Conservancy, Pittsburgh, PA
TKF Foundation, Annapolis, MD

  • To find out more about what makes a great park, visit www.pps.org/gps
  • We received over 70 nominations. Thank you to all who participated!

The final award winners were announced on June 23rd, 2003 at a special reception hosted by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., in honor of the 150th anniversary of Central Park, at its world headquarters in New York City. The Honorable Gifford Miller, Speaker of the New York City Council, presented the awards.

The reception was part of the 2003 International Conference, “Great Parks/Great Cities: Celebrating 150 Years of Central Park”, which brought together over 450 leaders, professionals and partners.

Award categories:

Great Parks/Great Cities Award – for a major park or square in North America that has added significantly to the social, economic and environmental health and well-being of that city.

“Public parks, the people who design them, and those who make them work are essential to the well-being of every metropolitan citizen. We are honored to sponsor this important award.”
-Susan S. Szenasy, Editor in Chief, Metropolis Magazine

Great Community Place Award – for a smaller park that, although not necessarily well-known nationally, has become a nucleus of social activity and revitalization in its community or neighborhood.

Catalyst Award for Urban Park Leadership – for a person or organization that has successfully evolved a park or other public space to meet the needs of today’s users, by involving the community, building stewardship and making a park the setting for diverse community activities.

Best New Park Award – for a new park (built in the last ten years) that provides a model for the future, where the many functions of community life can take place, where people feel ownership and a sense of pride, and where public space acts as a true common ground.

Youth Involvement Award – for an individual, or group of young people who have improved their communities by turning their spaces around. The award will provide inspiration to other youth who are working to make a difference, and trying to create public places that are comfortable for them and their peers.

“An active, well-functioning park can jumpstart the comeback of a community – from a small suburban or rural town to a highly urbanized big city. The Great Parks/Great Cities Awards provide the platform to show this to the world”
Kathy Madden, Director, 8th International Urban Parks Conference

Selection Panel:

Jerry Baum, Co-chair, National Association for Olmsted Parks
Zari Santner, Director, Portland Parks and Recreation
Mark Cameron, Executive Director, Neighborhood Design Center
Linda Moery, Assistant Director for Partnerships, National Park Service

Key Elements of Place

  • Uses and activities: the park is well-used on a regular basis by people of different ages, genders and backgrounds at different times of day and year.
  • Access and linkages: the park is visible and easy to get to, accessible to pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders, in addition to people who come by car. In addition, elements or attractions inside and outside the park are located in such a way that their use builds off one another.
  • Comfort and image: the park is comfortable, has a good image and amenities such as seating, information, food kiosks, bike racks, bulletin boards, etc. These elements make a park not only attractive but enticing for people of all ages.
  • Sociability: the park is a sociable place where people (locals and visitors from out of town) go to observe the passing scene, meet friends, and interact with a wide range of people that are different from themselves.