October 2, 2007SAVANNAH, GA — The American Planning Association (APA) announced today that Bull Street in Savannah, Georgia, has been designated one of 10 Great Streets for 2007 through APA’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 has singled out Bull Street as one of this year’s 10 Great Streets in America for the historic architecture and craftsmanship, diversity of uses, and integration of a variety of transportation alternatives — as well as the commitment of Savannah to preserve the street’s legacy.
“We’re honored that the American Planning Association has recognized Bull Street,” said Mayor Otis Johnson. “Savannah is preparing to celebrate its 275th anniversary, and Bull Street exemplifies the rich history of our magnificent city,” he said.
APA Great Places offer better choices for where and how people work and live. They are enjoyable, safe, and desirable. They are places where people want to be — not only to visit, but to live and work there everyday. America’s truly great neighborhoods are defined by many unique criteria, including architectural features, accessibility, functionality, and community involvement. Through Great Places in America APA recognizes the unique and authentic attributes of essential building blocks of great communities — streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces.
“We’re excited to select Bull Street as one of this year’s Great Streets,” said APA Executive Director Paul Farmer, FAICP. “Bull Street retains its 19th century grace and charm as it meets the challenges and needs of today’s users. That helps make Bull Street unique and worthy of this recognition,” he said.
The portion of Bull Street nominated for this honor extends from City Hall to Forsyth Park. Most distinctive are the five public squares located along the street — two of which were included in the original plan for Savannah created by General James Edward Oglethorpe. In his unusual orthogonal plan, streets and building lots are arranged around a central open space. The repetitive street grid connects one neighborhood to another and one public square to the next.
The squares are adorned with monuments commemorating citizens and events that have contributed to Savannah’s history. Bull Street’s Chippewa Square, for instance, was laid out in 1815 and named for a battle in the War of 1812. The square, featured in the movie “Forrest Gump,” hosts a bronze and marble monument to General Oglethorpe who founded Savannah and the colony of Georgia.
Chippewa Square, like the rest of Bull Street, features a range of architectural styles, from the classical First Baptist Church to the Greek Revival Moses Eastman house designed by Charles Cluskey. Other architectural styles found along Bull Street include examples of Gothic, Italianate, and Second Empire dispersed among early 20th century buildings. Such diversity gives the feeling that the street has evolved over time.
Zoned for mixed use, Bull Street is home to churches, government buildings, residences, offices, shops, and cafes. Granite curbs, brick sidewalks, benches, and mature trees line the street and further enhance its character to make it one of the best walking streets in town. A nearby parking garage offers users a free shuttle into the downtown core; however, many choose to walk along Bull Street to enjoy its ambience.
As Savannah looks to its future, the city has put in place height and design standards to help ensure that new infill development along Bull Street is compatible with existing buildings. As part of the Downtown Master Plan process, these standards are undergoing further refinement. Underground parking and environmentally sound practices, such as green roofs, will be encouraged.
The nine other APA Great Streets are Canyon Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Delmar Loop, University City and St. Louis, Missouri; Main Street, Northampton, Massachusetts; Monument Avenue, Richmond, Virgina; North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois; Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, Florida; 125th Street Harlem, New York City; South Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah; and St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana.
(From the American Planning Association)