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City officials, residents gather to commemorate neighborhood award

Julian Gerez/The Daily Northwestern

City officials held a news conference Friday afternoon to announce the Central Street neighborhood has been named one of the best in the county. It made the American Planning Association's annual list of "Great Neighborhoods."

Julian Gerez, Reporter

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City officials and residents Friday afternoon touted the designation of the Central Street neighborhood as one of 10 “Great Neighborhoods” across the United States.

(Central Street Neighborhood wins national award)

The national recognition came from the Washington, D.C.- based American Planning Association. In announcing the award earlier Friday, the group said the Central Street neighborhood has an “edgy urban vibe with a small town pace and sensibility.”

“Hard work has paid off in this award, but even more so in this wonderful neighborhood that we have,” Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said at a news conference at Independence Park.

City officials said the accolade was impressive considering the APA’s influence.

“The APA is the biggest and most important urban planning association in the country,” said Dennis Marino, Evanston’s recently retired planning and zoning manager.

Mark Muenzer, the city’s director of community development, said Northwestern has played an important role in shaping Central Street — and not just through football games at Ryan Field.

“They were one of the assets the APA described when they gave this designation,” Muenzer told The Daily. “Professionals and students from the university patronize all the businesses here.”

Despite its proximity to NU, the APA said on its website that Central Street is “not just another campus town area.”

The APA also praised the neighborhood’s historic and recreational attractions, bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly walkways, accessible public transportation and civic activism.

Central Street is the only location in Illinois to win the accolade this year.

Tisdahl said that despite the more recognizable features of the neighborhood, it is the inhabitants who define it.

“It’s the people who come to Central Street, who come to read, to shop, to play, to commute, the people who work and live here that make the neighborhood special,” Tisdahl said. “And that’s something that wasn’t acknowledged in the award, although I’m very grateful for the award and everything they did acknowledge.”

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