On Tuesday, October 4, the American Planning Association announced its list of 2011 Great Places. The American Planning Association brings together thousands of people — practicing planners, citizens, elected officials — committed to making great communities happen through a professional institute for certified planners and through divisions and chapters as well as student memberships. And, the APA identified Maymont as one of America’s 10 Great Public Spaces in 2011.
What is a public space?
A public space, as defined by the APA, can be a gathering spot or part of a neighborhood, downtown, special district, waterfront or other area within the public realm that helps promote social interaction and a sense of community. Possible examples may include such spaces as plazas, town squares, parks, marketplaces, public commons and malls, public greens, piers, special areas within convention centers or grounds, sites within public buildings, lobbies, concourses, or public spaces within private buildings.
Maymont, of course, is Richmond’s own 100-acre estate near downtown, now a city park with free admission featuring gorgeous gardens, wildlife exhibits, and open spaces perfect to romp and play.
As with all categories of Great Places, it is important to identify what sets a space apart from others spaces so as to qualify it for a Great Spaces designation. Public Spaces must be at least 10 years old, Maymont easily fits the bill having been built just after the Civil War and left by its owners, the Dooleys, to the City.
To be selected as a Great Place in America, a public space must possess the following characteristics:
Promotes human contact and social activities.
Is safe, welcoming, and accommodating for all users.
Has design and architectural features that are visually interesting.
Promotes community involvement.
Reflects the local culture or history.
Relates well to bordering uses.
Is well maintained.
Has a unique or special character.
If you haven’t visited Maymont yet, you should add it to your list to assess its features yourself. And, if you haven’t visited Richmond, Virginia yet – this is just another site to add to your itinerary. Maymont joins Monument Avenue, which was designated a Great American Place in 2007. More Information about the program and the American Planning Association.
When planning a visit to Richmond, add Maymont to your list, as well as the State Capitol of Virginia (designed by Thomas Jefferson), the Tiffany windows in St. Paul’s, the gardens and conservatory of Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, a stroll down Monument Avenue, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Virginia Historical Society, the Museum and White House of the Confederacy – and the list goes on! As you can tell, a day won’t do it; to fit it all in, plan a few days and stay in the middle of it all at Richmond’s premier bed and breakfast, home to the hearty gourmet breakfast and located in the historic Fan District.