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Downtown Woodstock Streetscape Named One of Top 10 Great Streets

Woodstock, VT - The American Planning Association (APA) announced the designation of the Downtown Woodstock Streetscape as one of 10 Great Streets for 2011 under the organization's Great Places in America program. APA Great Places exemplify exceptional character and highlight the role planners and planning play in creating communities of lasting value.

APA singled out the Downtown Woodstock Streetscape for its 19th century architecture, unique sense of place and scenic vistas. Four streets - Central, Elm, North Park and South Park - have been the backbone of the community's commerce, growth and social activity since the Village of Woodstock was chartered 250 years ago.

"Woodstock is proud of its walkable historic community," said Town-Village Manager Philip B. Swanson. "Well over half of the structures were built in the 1800s. Woodstock is the ubiquitous New England Village of old. This can be attested by the numerous comments rendered by the thousands of visitor we receive each year," he added.  

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Through Great Places in America, APA recognizes unique and exemplary streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces - three essential components of all communities. These places have also been shaped by forward thinking planning that showcases diverse architectural styles, promotes community involvement and accessibility, and fosters economic opportunity.

"These streets not only accommodate cars and trucks traveling through downtown Woodstock, but provide a true community gathering place," said APA Chief Executive Officer Paul Farmer, FAICP. "Having developed organically over the centuries, these streets have survived intact due to the combined planning efforts of residents, merchants and village officials," he added.

The streets are home to some of the oldest properties and most stately homes in Woodstock. Located on Elm Street are the Dana House, F.H. Gillingham & Sons General Store and First Congregational Church, all of which were built during the early 19th century. Between North and South Park streets is The Green, Woodstock's front yard and the location of both a seasonal farmer's market and several of the town's most impressive houses. Also near The Green, at the intersection of North Park Street and Mountain Avenue, is Middle Covered Bridge that crosses over the Ottauquechee River.

Chartered in 1761 and added to National Register of Historic Places in 1973, the Village of Woodstock and its downtown streetscape form what many consider to have been the 19th-century's quintessential New England town center with a public green and three- or four-story brick buildings standing side by side.

Steps to protect Woodstock's historic and scenic character go back several decades, starting with Laurence Rockefeller, the grandson of John D. Rockefeller, who in 1968 rebuilt the aging 1890s Woodstock Inn located on The Green. The town's design review regulations - Vermont's first such ordinance - were adopted in 1980. Woodstock also adopted an ordinance establishing scenic ridgeline districts to ensure vistas visible from downtown, such as  Mt. Tom to the north and Mt. Peg to the south, were not compromised.

Although U.S. Route 4, of which Central Street and South Park Street are a part, is state-regulated, the Village of Woodstock controls portions through town. This allows the village to close streets to traffic for special events, such as the Memorial Day and  Wassail Weekend parades.

The nine other APA 2011 Great Streets are: Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA; U Street N.W., Washington, DC; Front Street, Lahaina, HI; Main Street, Galena, IL;  Main Street, Nantucket, MA; Washington Avenue, St. Louis, MO; Market Street and Market Square, Portsmouth, NH; King Street, Alexandria, VA; and Davis Street, Culpeper, VA.

 The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the profession of good planning -- physical, economic and social -- so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live.

Tagged: Woodstock, American planning association, Great Places in America