14 Thoughtfully Designed Cities: Their People, and Stories

Written by Gene Caballero on May 10, 2019

It is no secret, that the American Landscape includes a lot of amazing cities.

Each more spectacular than the last.

Here’s the thing, we couldn’t possibly write about all of them.

So we picked a few select cities which really stood out above the rest.

Here are s ome very thoughtfully designed cities and their stories, as told by the people that live there. 

It gets better, thanks Local Logic we also have a list of the 30 quietest cities in America

Check it out!

1. Tampa, Florida

Look: It's no secret that Tampa, Florida is a paradise.

Tampa is not only a great tourist destination, it is a place that many call home.

There are several reasons that Tampa mad the list of thoughtfully designed cities. 

For one,  St. Petersburg in Tampa ranks number 3 for quietest places to live, this is according to Local Logic's data. (Complete list of quietest cities below).

 

Not only are parts of Tampa among the quietest in the nation. Tampa was built to be enjoyed. It is home to gorgeous white sand beaches, it is also home to the world’s longest continuous sidewalk.

Two Tampa residents took their time to tell us their favorite aspects of Tampa

Liz Wyosnick, a dietitian, who lived in Tampa for over 15 years had this to say:

“Tampa has developed beautifully over the past 20 years. I reminisce often about Tampa (since relocating to Seattle) because it was made to be a place for a fun life. Life in Tampa is leisurely, easy, and light. There are offerings and attractions for anyone, of any age and any interest. 

The city design encourages being outdoors, getting involved and being seen.. Visit the new Armature Works, stroll or bike on the Riverwalk, and catch dolphins swimming along the beautiful stretch of bay shore. I can't wait for my next visit back!”

It gets better, Juhi Kore of the University of Tampa had this to say:

"I am a budding urbanist living in Tampa, FL. One of the main focal points in Tampa (man made landscape wise) is Bayshore Boulevard. This is one of the best features of the city for pedestrians, bicyclists, as well as drivers in terms of enjoyment."

"Another great thing about Tampa is how well placed many of the parks are. The intention with which the river bank is being developed as well as the multitude of parks that are connected to the bay is breathtaking for sunrise and sunset views."

Tampa is a hub of thoughtful design. From its extensive pleasure beaches, to its lush greenery and landscape. Tampa is certainly a city worth noting when it comes to thoughtful design.

2. Dallas, Texas

It's a well known fact that Texas is big.

We could have probably made a list of thoughtfully designed cities entirely of towns and cities from Texas alone. 

However, Dallas, Texas has many unique and extraordinary design aspects which really stood out to us.

One of these thoughtful designs is the Klyde Warren Park:

Which according to John Goodman, the pubic relations representative for Biederman Redevelopment Ventures, which helped plan the management, operation and programming in the park:

“For many years, the freeway severed the city's Arts District from Uptown, but since the park's opening in 2012, it has transformed the city by bridging that gap and creating a new heart of downtown.”

This is crazy, but the folks in Dallas built a park over a highway that had long divided the city in two, uniting it once again. Now the highway flows beneath the park, and the parks itself is now a place where the community gathers together in the same space that once kept it apart.

Now that is some thoughtful design!

A lead consultant on this project was Dan Biederman, president of Biederman Redevelopment Ventures, who had this to say about the project:

"Klyde Warren Park has had a tremendous impact on downtown Dallas. The 5.2-acre urban deck park was constructed over the eight-lane Woodall Rodgers Freeway, one of the busiest freeways in Texas. For many years, the freeway severed the city's Arts District from Uptown, but since the park's opening in 2012, it has transformed the city by bridging that gap and creating a new heart of downtown."

"The park offers dozens of free activities that have attracted people who live and work in the area to enjoy the Green Space. As important, the park has had a strong economic impact on the downtown district, creating new development sites and increased density near the park. The park's adjacent area has seen over $1 billion in new developments since the opening."

Think about how crazy that is. A park over the freeway! What a unique and especially thoughtful design. 

Combine that with an elegant cityscape, Dallas is simply astounding!

3. Clinton, New Jersey

Many places in New Jersey are unique hotbeds of activity. 

With many of its residents working or even living in NYC part time, New Jersey is a place that relies on thoughtful design through and through.

Here's the deal, one of the unique places in New Jersey is the city of Clinton. 

Clinton is a unique town just over an hour away from the city that knows how to balance the nearby big city life with laid back community oriented appeal.

Mayor Janice Kovach of Clinton, NJ had this to say about her beautiful town:

“Clinton is a true testament to a community that has survived and thrived through multiple generations. First as a farming community in the late 1700s to a village with working mills and one of the few routes from NYC to Philadelphia.

Mayor Kovach continues:

"Clinton was a hub of commercial activity through the early 1900s. Each generation adds a touch while keeping the beauty that is our rich history. Today we welcome visitors from all over the world to show them life in a small town through the centuries.”

Bottom line, Clinton. NJ is a quaint town, whose aesthetic value and quiet nature, land it on our list of thoughtfully designed cities.

4. Flushing, NY

The New York City metropolitan is loaded with thoughtfully designed cities

One of these cities is Flushing, NY, which is located in Queens. 

This place is a unique place in NYC which is near both Brooklyn and Manhattan, yet has its own quiet, and humble atmosphere.

According to Brian Ma, Owner of Flushing.com:

“Flushing, NY is a paragon of balanced beauty being both a small town and a small city. The Flushing skyline showcases majestic towers and the iconic World's Fair Unisphere, while also being the home for thousands of single family dutch colonials built over the last hundred years.”

“The ever changing cosmopolitan nature of downtown Flushing offers cuisine, culture, and a vibrant nightlife that reflects traditions from all over the world. Ultimately though, it is the people of Flushing that make the area a true neighborhood where a vibrant energy celebrates life.”

It gets better, check this out:

The map above shows Local Logic’s Data on the walkability of Flushing. Dark green representing the places where folks will be in walking distance of everything they need.

This is funny because Brain Ma told us the same thing:

“Flushing, New York is thoughtfully designed because the layout was conceived to promote a walkable neighborhood. The easy access to shops, restaurants, parks and public transit promote a healthy lifestyle. Residents can easily walk anywhere without the need for a car."

“The city design was smartly conceptualized because the various neighborhoods of the area are connected via two transit hubs, the Long Island Rail Road and the subway, to obviate car use.”

Flushing is filled to the brim with classic architecture, streets full of people, and yet it is still a humble and quiet town. 

Flushing is the perfect city for those looking for a quiet home life, while being only minutes away from all the things you need.

5. Manhattan, New York

To the west of Flushing, is the much larger city of Manhattan. 

Here’s the deal, Manhattan is perhaps one of the most thoughtfully designed places there is. 

Ever since the Dutch arrived and began trading with the Munsi people, Manhattan has grown into a bustling community.

Based on the "vibrancy map" from Local Logic, you can see why they call NYC the city that never sleeps.

All that green represents the level of human activity, and you can see it is non stop!

Throughout its long history Manhattan has relied on millions of thoughtful minds to become what it is today

One of these folks is Dan Biederman. Yes this is the same Dan Biederman that helped to design Klyde Warren Park in Dallas. 

He had this to say about developing Bryant Park in Manhattan:

“Bryant Park is a beloved, year-round New York City destination. Known as Manhattan's Town Square, the park is famous for its lush seasonal gardens, free activities, world class restrooms, and al fresco dining. Located adjacent to the New York Public Library and surrounded by iconic skyscrapers, Bryant Park is visited by more than 12 million people each year and is one of the busiest public spaces in the world."

"Bryant Park is totally funded and operated by private financing. Bryant Park’s revival also created a boom in new high-rise office buildings and brand name companies moving to the area, increasing the value of property surrounding the park and generating tens of millions in additional real estate taxes for NYC”

Over the last 400+ years, Manhattan has been meticulously, and thoughtfully designed by millions of thoughtful designers.

6. Sierra Madre, California

Located to the northeast of Los Angeles, is a small city known as Sierra Madre. 

It’s certainly no little known fact that Los Angeles is a busy place!

Though there are certainly many thoughtfully designed parts of Los Angeles itself, none are as mentionable as the little city known as Sierra Madre.

Why is that?

Simply put, Sierra Madre is perfectly located. It is literally a quiet place comfortably sandwiched between Los Angeles and the the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley below the southern edge of the Angeles National Forest.

Seriously this place is great. There are 11,000 folks that live in this city, best of all it is only a few miles from several major cities, including Los Angeles itself.

James Carlson, management analyst with the City of Sierra Madre in the Los Angeles Foothills near Pasadena notes:

“The Authentic Foothill Gardens that surround the Sierra Madre City Hall stay lush and leafy in drought, draw our community into the space, and demonstrate the strategies that protect us from wildfire, flooding and mudslides."

"Water capture and infiltration features have proven to be the envy of the town during recent rainstorms. In a very short amount of time, their beauty has inspired both Sierra Madre residents and visitors to make more ecologically sound decisions.”

Its true, the Foothill Gardens are outstandingly gorgeous. I know where I will be going the next time I am near Los Angeles!

Sierra Madre, is a wonderful city, whose thoughtful design landed it in between  both Los Angeles and the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains.

7. Montgomery, Alabama

Montgomery, Alabama, also known as the Capital of Dreams, is also capital of Alabama. This city has had a lot of thoughtful design put into it.

 For a city with such a long past, Montgomery has maintained a modern appeal generation after generation, all the while without losing its historical appeal.


One of their most notable memorials, the National Historic Voting Rights Trail, has caught them a lot of negative publicity. 

Yet it has also lead to slow, painful, but necessary conversations about the nations history.

Mayor Todd Strange had this to tell us about Montgomery:

“Montgomery, Alabama, is a unique blend of old and new, with historic buildings and streets in the same realm as our burgeoning technology sector. With buildings and sites significant to the Civil Rights and to the Civil War Eras, now Montgomery is also home to the moving architecture of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice."

Mayor Todd continues: 

"The National Historic Voting Rights Trail goes right through our City downtown and is marked by stately trees and street furnishings as it passes the historic Court Square Fountain up Dexter Avenue (PAST Dr. Martin Luther King’s church) to the steps of the Capitol. “

Deep in the heart of the south, Montgomery, Alabama is distinct, thoughtfully designed city that deserves recognition for its unique character.

Seriously, Montgomery is full of thoughtful design, and thoughtful leadership. There is a lot more to Montgomery than we can mention here, but for that, you will have to visit it yourself.

8. Greenville, SC

Greenville is the kind of city I simply love.  Deep in the heart of nature, Greenville is a city where you could go hiking all day, and then go to a great show at your choice of venue in the evening.

Here’s the deal, Greenville is a thoughtfully designed city for balancing nature with city life. And people know it.

Home of Furman University, which was presented with our Pristine Campus Award, there seems to be no end to the possibilities Greenville has to offer.

I will leave it to Jennifer at guidetogreenville.com to tell you all about it!

“Have you heard about #yeahthatgreenville? Greenville, SC cannot not be talked about. Named "#3 Top Small City in the US" by Conde Nast Traveler, "The Next Big Small Town" by People Magazine, and "Top 20 America's Favorite Cities For Food" by Travel and Leisure, our town hasn't always received accolades and praise.”

Tweet #yeahthatgreenville

Jennifer continues:

“Lead by Mayor Knox White, our city's visionary leadership and private public partnerships have transformed Greenville's downtown into a truly remarkable family-friendly destination. Stroll down main street and you'll instantly feel at home as you see smiling faces and happy pups.”

“With over 100+ amazing restaurants in a 3-mile stretch, local boutiques, public art, a scavenger hunt to find all 9 Mice on Main, and the breathtaking Falls Park with the Liberty Bridge overlooking the Reedy Falls, you'll wonder why you haven't visited the small southern town of Greenville, SC. I always warn out-of-town clients: be prepared to never leave--Greenville's charm will hook you in!”

In conclusion, Greenville South Carolina is a lovely city which is full of character, and pride in their tight community. This city is both gorgeous, and thoughtfully designed, which lands it on our list of thoughtfully designed cities.

9. Salt Lake City, Utah

Next on our list of thoughtfully designed cities is Salt Lake City, Utah.

 

So why exactly did this city make the list?

Here it is, Paul Draper a Mentalist, brought this city to our attention with this simple commentary:

“Salt Lake City. Built on a grid. If you want to go to 300 east and 700 south, you travel 3 blocks and then 7 blocks and you are there

This seems obvious at first, but many cities have complicated layouts which new comers can easily get lost in.

According to Explore Utah this can lead to a bit of confusion as well as some interesting addresses:

“This system makes for some unique addresses. Where else do you see an address such as 2150 East 13400 South? Although this can be very confusing and frustrating to someone who is unfamiliar with this system, it is actually a very efficient way of doing things.”


It gets even stranger, the grid is centered around Temple Square, which has lead to its fair share of conspiracy theories.

Whoever decided the layout of Salt Lake City put a lot of thought into it. Conspiracy or not, Salt Lake City is a thoughtfully designed place. Don’t even get me started on the hidden underground tunnels.

10. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh!!!!!

It’s not just a fun name to yell in the middle of the street for no clear reason, Pittsburgh is one amazingly designed city.

Just a glance at many photos from Pittsburgh prove this!

Three Pittsburg residents shared their stories of Pittsburgh with us:

The first resident Walter G. Meyer had quite a bit to tell us about Pittsburgh and his relationship to it. Check it out:

I grew up in Pittsburgh and from a family that can trace it's roots there back 150-200 years. Relatives show up in the history of the city, on war memorials and in cemeteries all over Pittsburgh. Although I have not lived in Pittsburgh for years, I go back often and still marvel at what a great city is. I still do freelance writing for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and would be happy to send you links to some articles.

Prince Charles once said it was one of the best cities he had ever seen for blending the old and the new and making it all work. A Brazilian friend who was studying architecture there sent me an article calling it one of the most beautiful cities on earth, giving it bonus points for when the dramatic way it comes into view as you drive through the Fort Pitt Tunnels from the airport and the fact that is one of the few city you can stand outside and look down on the entire cityscape.

But I think the reason it appears so "thoughtfully designed" is that it had to be. Given its position on the point of land at the confluence of the rivers, everything has to adapt to that unique geography. From buildings that echo the triangular shape to fit into streets that from triangles to house that that hang on the hill above the South Side, the setting dictates how everything is built.


Another previous resident Varda Epstein Writer at Kars4Kids, had this to say:

"I grew up in Squirrel Hill. For me, it is the wide swaths of public parks (Schenley, Frick, Mellon, Highland) spread throughout the city. It relieves the eye to see wide open spaces, green, and attractively laid out, smack dab in the middle of the city. But then, it’s also the panther statues, so sleek and smooth and stunning. I get chills every time I come home for a visit."

Finally Sam Maizlech of Glacier Wellness Pittsburgh resident had this to say:

"Pittsburgh was once one of the smoggiest and most polluted cities in the country, but take a look a now and you'll see just how much has changed. Modern-day Pittsburgh is a hub of green technology and environmentally-friendly innovation; even the city's busiest districts feature vacant lots turned into green spaces and infrastructure projects. 

"Although it's a rather older city, Pittsburgh is filled with attractive modern buildings and rich history, complemented with over. 2,000 acres of gorgeous parkland. Overall, Pittsburgh is a truly one of a kind city that is part concrete jungle, part rural landscape, and 100% homey."

From the images of Pittsburgh alone, you can just imagine how many folks it took to design this city. 

Pittsburgh is undoubtedly a city which has has decades of thoughtful design integrated throughout this amazing city.

11. Boston, Massachusetts

 Boston has come a long way since Tony Danza served the community with his excellent bar keeping skills.

Though Cheers has long been of f the air, Boston has continued to grow into the amazing city it is today.

From it’s classic Italian architecture, to the famous Fenway Park, Boston has 1000's of thoughtful designers making Boston a place with a distinctly unique design. 

For example, Fenway Park is maintained fabulously by David Mellor, author of the Lawn Bible. David and many folks like him have worked for hundreds of years to design the unique architecture which has gone into Boston.

One Boston resident, Stacy Caprio mentioned the Freedom Trail as one of Boston’s thoughtfully designed monuments and she had this to say:

“Boston has the Freedom Trail which was thoughtfully designed. It incorporates a brick line that extends from the beginning to end of the trail, allowing visitors to walk the entire trail with or without a tour without getting lost or confused.”

To be honest though, I could probably still get lost on the trail, despite how simple the trail may be.

Despite that, there’s only one place you can go where everybody knows your name, and that's Paramount studios, in LA where they shot Cheers. 

But if you want a great time, with centuries of thoughtful architecture, design and care, you need to go to Boston, MA. Seriously this place is awesome!

12. Virginia Beach, Virginia

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While Virginia Beach is certainly not one of the quietest places in America, with all that jet noise, it is a quickly growing city located in the south easternmost part of Virginia. 

Virginia Beach's extensive ocean front, and boardwalk are home to festivals, events and music throughout the year.

One resident, Nikki James Zellner of Where Content Connects had this to mention about Virginia Beach's design.

"I live in Virginia Beach – and in my life have lived in over 12 destinations around the Southeast U.S"

"As an active duty military family with two toddler boys, we consider Virginia Beach to be one of the best places to live or visit – regardless of life stage. It's because of this we've decided to start a business here, as well as having my husband attend Old Dominion University as he transitions out of the Navy."

"The areas that stand out to us the most:"

" First Landing State Park - our love of hiking takes us to the diverse trail system of First Landing State Park regardless of season. Throughout the year you can often see "rainbow swamps" – where a thin film atop to standing water turns into a rainbow when the early morning sun hits it in just the right way."

" Mount Trashmore – an abandoned landfill was repurposed into a beautiful public park – perfect for flying kites on a windy day or achieving optimum health through local group bootcamps + self-paced fitness stations."

" VIBE Creative District – there is no better place to see creativity in action than the Vibe Creative District located near the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Colorful murals line businesses, fences and roadways – and were a key "instagram-worthy" destination at the recent Something In the Water Festival put on by Pharrell and friends."


A second resident Olivia Anderson of Naturally Made Mom had this to say:

Virginia Beach is a unique in that even though it has such a large population, the design of the city makes you feel like you are in a small town. As you drive the streets there is something for every type of person. There is different architecture, unique street lighting, or perfectly symmetrical trees. You can enjoy the beautiful flowers and bustle of town center, unique statues and metal art by the ocean, and even find some Spanish moss deep in the gorgeous countryside of Pungo. Many of the locally owned restaurants put an emphasis on decorating with plants which makes you feel like you are escaping the big city.

Virginia Beach is a thoughtfully designed city in many ways. Not only does it have one of the best boardwalks in America, it is also home to the longest pleasure beaches in the world. 

This place is a creative haven for all types of folks looking to make their life all it can be.

13. Chicago, Illinois

It’s no secret that Chicago is thoughtfully designed. With a mix of old and new architecture, there is no shortage of thoughtful designs to admire.

This is shocking, but Chicago Lawyer Russell D. Knight had this to say:

“I'm from Chicago, Illinois and I have to tell you that Chicago is the original "thoughtfully designed city"”

He went on to explain his claim too!

“Specifically, it was designed by Daniel Burnham in his famous Burnham plan. It provides for lots of grid neighborhoods connected by spokes with lots of parks and a preserved lakefront. He did this all before automobiles and elevated trains!”

“Today Chicago is the architecture capital of the world in large part due to the thoughtful design of Daniel Burnham.”

And Russell isn’t exaggerating, Daniel put a lot of thought into the planning of Chicago, and we still see the impact of that plan today.

A second Chicago Resident had this to tell us, Shawn Zanotti of Exact Publicity had this to say:

"I am from Chicago...born and raised and currently based in Los Angeles. I have lived in a variety of areas--Virginia, South Carolina and now LA. I must say it is something uniquely designed. The city in itself is beautiful..from the exquisite and detailed Chicago skyline downtown to the gorgeous views of Lake Michigan."

"Then it is the richness of history all within the city with architecture from the Frank Loyd Wright homes which line the Beverly and Hyde Park neighborhoods within neighborhoods which are thriving and vibing off of family values, culture, and history. It is really architecturally one of the most beautiful cities in the United States."

Frank Lloyd Wright as mentioned above by Shawn, is certainly an individual who is responsible for many thoughtful designs throughout the nation. Chicago, with its location in the basin of the great lakes, is an extraordinary and thoughtfully designed city.

14. Spokane, Washington


Look, Spokane is an amazing city that very few people ever get a chance to visit.

This is perhaps the biggest city locked in the middle of a rainforest that there is. Seriously this place is separated from many nearby places by a dense forest, and flourishing nature.

One of the most unique design features of Spokane is that it has a full blown river which flows through it's town center. 

One Spokane resident, Priscilla Broward, of Ultimate Beauty Health has this to say:

"Spokane is a unique city, due to its landscape mélange, and mixed collection of urban city meets country appeal. Just travel a 25 radius from the heart of downtown Spokane, one starts within a city by the river with a beautiful public park, crossover the bridge to a new growing hip vibe."

"Continue your journey up to the hills, and you will discover the further one goes, the more beautiful the vistas, in particular the care and attention to the landscaping. Green lawns are a sense of inherit pride to the people of Spokane. The variety of architecture, old and new, funky and sleek, provides eye catching appreciation for a city so “thoughtfully designed”."

Spokane is an extraordinarily designed city, whose features include a unique rainforest location, a river running through it's center. Spokane features many unique design features which land it on our list of thoughtfully designed cities.

In Conclusion:

It is surprising, that as we grow older the world seems to get smaller and smaller. But when you really step back and take a look, you can see how many possibilities there are. Though this list includes 15 cities that we have found to be thoughtfully designed, there are so many cities we couldn’t include on this list, that certainly deserve the name of being “thoughtfully designed”.

Despite how hard life can be at times, and how challenging it can be, it’s quite crazy to think of just how much thought has gone into designing each of our small towns, communities, cities, countries and even the world itself.

Did we miss your town or community?

If so, tweet out your favorite city of choice along with this article @YourGreenPal on Twitter! We just may add it to the article.

Bonus Article:

Quietest Cities in America

Brought to you by

Local Logic Logo

Look: One of the most important factors to a thoughtfully designed city, is designing a city that maintains as low of a noise level as possible. In order to find the quietest cities in the nation, I reached out to locallogic.Co and they used their data to share with us the "quietest cities in the country."

Check it out, here is what they had to say...

Here are the top 30 US cities by population, ranked by "quiet" - i'll get a methodology statement for you, when you see something like "new york - newark" or "Phoenix - Mesa", we mean the main metro area of Phoenix, we just used the population of the metro to pick the 30 cities.

  1. Phoenix - Mesa
  2. Las Vegas - Henderson
  3. Tampa - St. Petersburg
  4. Denver - Aurora
  5. Atlanta
  6. Seattle
  7. Riverside - San Bernardino
  8. Sacramento
  9. Portland
  10. Houston
  11. Orlando
  12. Detroit
  13. Pittsburgh
  14. Washington
  15. San Diego
  16. Chicago
  17. Minneapolis - St. Paul
  18. Miami
  19. St. Louis
  20. Dallas - Fort Worth - Arlington
  21. Baltimore
  22. San Jose
  23. New York - Newark
  24. San Antonio
  25. San Francisco - Oakland
  26. Cincinnati
  27. Boston
  28. Philadelphia
  29. Los Angeles - Long Beach - Anaheim
  30. Cleveland

Methodology: To rank these metro's by "quiet", Local Logic analyzed noise levels for every street segment (a street between two intersections) and assigned a score, which was then averaged for the city. For each street segment, we use 100s of sources of data to quantify potential sources of noise in the city such as traffic, transit, and businesses

About Local Logic: Local Logic is a data and insights company. Using our proprietary technologies, unique urban datasets and expertise in geospatial information, data science, real estate, and urbanism, we quantify the qualities of any given location within a city. The technologies developed by Local Logic are used to inform the decisions of home buyers, investors and anyone that cares about location.

Founded in 2014 by urban planners turned data scientists, the company’s vision is to match people with places and transform the way Real Estate is being bought, built and sold. Learn more at LocalLogic.co

Hi, I'm Gene Caballero and I'm the co-founder of GreenPal . At GreenPal, we're helping hundreds of thousands of Americans solve one of the trickiest problems: a reliable, fast, and affordable way to get lawncare taken care of. On behalf of GreenPal, I've been featured in the Indianapolis Star, the Sacramento Bee, Entrepreneur, Inc.com, and dozens more. Please feel free to say hi on Twitter or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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