America Names Top Smart-Growth Cities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Smart Growth Awards recognize innovation in everything from creating small public spaces in densely packed urban cores to investing in compact communities and preserving forests and farmland. It all makes for greater livability.

This past year, the Big Apple took honors for overall excellence. “New York City has achieved a relatively small carbon footprint, given its size, through its commitment to creating compact and walkable neighborhoods,” according to the agency report. The city has also built dedicated bike lanes and carved out public spaces in urban jungles like Times Square.

Portland, Oregon, wins kudos for its realistic growth plan to accommodate an anticipated 600,000 population by 2030, strengthening employment and concentrating commerce, while preserving its neighborhoods and connections with nature. In Maine, 20 towns collaborated in a commercial and tourist byway, while preserving the region’s rural character. San Francisco earned praise for transforming a previously neglected alleyway into the vibrant South of Market retail area, as did Baltimore for its green rehab of an historic building into a mixed-use space that revitalized the surrounding neighborhood.

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