Beachwood has one of the country's greatest streets within city limits, the American Planning Association announced on Wednesday.
Shaker Boulevard was named an APA Great Street as part of the organization's 2012 Great Places in American series. The APA ranks Shaker's 6.75-mile stretch — from Woodhill Road in Cleveland to Beachwood City Park East near Interstate 271 — among the likes of Fifth Avenue in New York and Gay Street in Knoxville, Tenn.
“Shaker Boulevard continues to be a vital and efficient connecting route that promotes regionalism and economic growth within the cities of Beachwood, Shaker Heights and Cleveland," said Beachwood Mayor Merle S. Gorden. "In addition to its economic attributes, Shaker Boulevard is also aesthetically pleasing and contributes greatly to the allure and great urban vibe of this part of Greater Cleveland.”
“Shaker Boulevard is an outstanding example of planning’s ability to add lasting value to communities that plan, design and build thoroughfares that are both functional and beautiful,” said APA Chief Executive Officer Paul Farmer, FAICP. “True to its founders’ vision, Shaker Boulevard remains as attractive for commuters today as it was during the 1920s and 1930s. The boulevard has balanced parks, trees and an open median with the built environment for nearly a hundred years because citizens challenged inappropriate development proposals,” he continued.
Here's an excerpt of what the APA said about Shaker Boulevard:
Early 20th century mansions, transit service to downtown Cleveland that dates back more than 100 years, acres of parkland, and a tree-lined median make Shaker Boulevard a street that combines the historic with the modern. Anchoring the boulevard toward the west is Shaker Square, a charming, octagonal-shaped commercial district within the Cleveland city limits. Intersecting Shaker Boulevard at North Moreland Boulevard, it was developed in 1927 by real estate and railroad magnates O.P. and M.J. Van Sweringen as a gateway to their new Shaker Heights suburb.
"I thought was terrific, that was a real pleasure," Shaker Heights Mayor Earl Leiken said of the ranking. "We believe we have a strong national profile, and we think this confirms it."
The Great Streets program lists several characteristics of its winners, including character, personality, environment and use of sustainable practices.