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Home American Planning Association Designates Queens Botanical Garden One of Top 10 Great Public Spaces for 2009

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American Planning Association Designates Queens Botanical Garden One of Top 10 Great Public Spaces for 2009

American Planning Association Designates
Queens Botanical Garden One of Top 10 Great Public Spaces for 2009
Queens’ Cultural Diversity Shapes Garden’s Vision, Design, Programs 

Tara Rogers, Headline Communications, Inc: Tel. 631.207.6840;
Denny Johnson, APA: Tel. 202.349.1006;

Flushing, NY – The American Planning Association (APA) announced today the Queens Botanical Garden has been designated as one of the 10 Great Public Spaces for 2009 by 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. This is the sixth Great Places in America designation in the state.

Originally part of the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City, the Garden has been singled out by APA for several reasons including its commitment to sustainable practices, such as total reuse of storm water from the 39-acre site; its integration of the borough’s rich cultural and social diversity into the design and activities of the Garden; and its use of two master plans to guide a $70 million, decade-long redesign and refurbishment of the Garden.

“We identified early on that as a botanical garden and environmental organization, if we weren’t going to showcase smart environmental design, who would?” said Susan Lacerte, Executive Director of the Queens Botanical Garden.

“But it was our strong connections with the local community and its diverse ethnic groups that was essential to moving the Garden into the next phase of its history with an even deeper sense of place, and we’re honored to have such work recognized through this prestigious award,” said Lacerte.

Through Great Places in America, APA recognizes unique and authentic characteristics found in three essential components of all communities — streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces. APA Great Places offer better choices for where and how people work and live everyday, places that are enjoyable, safe, and desirable. Such places are defined by many characteristics, including architectural features, accessibility, functionality, and community involvement.

“We’re very excited to single out Queens Botanical Garden as one of this year’s Great Public Spaces,” said APA Chief Executive Officer Paul Farmer, FAICP. "The garden has set a new standard for others to follow when it comes to planning public spaces that not only conserve natural resources, but also take into account a community’s varying social and cultural needs. The result is a public space that is very special, and all of the people that made this possible are to be commended,” he added.

Queens Botanical Garden has been a part of the borough since its beginning as a five-acre “Gardens on Parade” exhibit during the 1939 New York World’s Fair. In the early 1960s it was moved to downtown Flushing because its former location was in the path of the Van Wyck Expressway extension and the site of the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

Today the Garden occupies 39 acres that include a new, state-of-the-art Visitor & Administration Building that opened to the public in 2007 and has a Platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. The Visitor & Administration Building uses 80 percent less water than buildings comparable in size and function. The Office of the Queens Borough President provided $11.3 million towards the $24.1 million facility and other renovations to the public space.

The Garden’s unique sense of place is defined not only by its grounds, interesting plantings, and low-energy-using buildings, but also by its visitors  and the activities taking place at the garden. Each autumn, for example, the Chinese Moon Festival is held here each year to celebrate the summer harvest.

Citizen support for, and community interest in, the Garden dates to 1946 when the Queens Botanical Garden Society was chartered and began restoring the original exhibits and plantings from the 1939 World’s Fair. After being relocated in 1963 to its present location, noted urban planner Robert Moses spoke at the Garden’s 1963 ribbon-cutting ceremony

The nine other APA 2009 Great Public Spaces are:

East Park, City of Charlevoix, MI
Virginia Beach Boardwalk, Virginia Beach, VA
The Squares of Savannah, Savannah, GA
The Grand Rounds, Minneapolis, MN
Central Square, Keene, NH
Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL
New Haven Green, New Haven, CT
The Green, Dover, DE
Central Market, Lancaster, PA

For more information about these public spaces, as well as lists of the 2009 APA 10 Great Neighborhoods and 10 Great Streets, visit

This year's Great Places in America will be celebrated as part of APA's National Community Planning Month in October 2009; for more about the special month, visit

The American Planning Association and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and 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. Members of APA help create communities of lasting value and encourage civic leaders, business interests, and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people's lives. APA has offices in Washington, D.C.,

Chicago, Ill, and Shanghai, China. For more information, visit its website at



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