Rittenhouse Square designated a great American space

Posted: October 14, 2010

It's easy to like Rittenhouse Square and the American Planning Association agrees.

The educational and professional organization has designated the square - one of the original five squares in William Penn's "Greene Countrie Towne" - as one of nation's top 10 great public spaces for 2010.

The APA said it singled out Rittenhouse Square because of the long-standing tradition of residents maintaining the park.

"We're very excited to name Rittenhouse Square as one of this year's great public spaces," APA Chief Executive Officer Paul Farmer said in a statement. "For Philadelphians and tourists, Rittenhouse Square is a true landmark. City officials and residents have done a spectacular job in carrying out William Penn's original plan for their city and keeping Rittenhouse Square a remarkable public space."

The APA recounted how in 1913 a group of local citizens commissioned architect Paul Cret to redesign the six-acre space, which was originally designated as pasture land.

In 1947, a plan to build a parking garage beneath the square led to the creation of the Center City Residents Association and in 1976 the public-private partnership Friends of Rittenhouse Square formed to help maintain the park, the APA notes.

Rittenhouse Square and the Rittenhouse Square District were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.

The other APA 2010 Great Public Spaces are:

Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan

Charles W. Ireland Sculpture Garden, Birmingham, Ala.

Fountain Square, Bowling Green, Ky.

Emerald Necklace, Boston

Ferry Building, San Francisco

Campus Martius Park, Detroit

Perceval Landing Boardwalk and Park, Olympia, Wash.

Plaza Real, Boca Raton, Fla.

Main Plaza, San Antonio

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