Congress Street in downtown Tucson was honored this week as one of five “Great Streets” by the American Planning Association.

The group recognized the redevelopment efforts along the two-lane street in downtown, helping to improve pedestrian traffic along existing cultural anchors like Hotel Congress, the Rialto Theatre and the Fox Tucson Theatre, as well as bringing in the Tucson streetcar.

The association’s Great Places in America program, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, recognizes streets, neighborhoods and public spaces in the United States demonstrating exceptional character, quality and planning — attributes that enrich communities, facilitate economic growth and inspire others around the country, according to a city new release.

“The story of Congress Street is the story of downtown Tucson. From boarded-up buildings less than 10 years ago, we’ve brought back a vibrant downtown, with arts, entertainment, office and residential space,” said Mayor Jonathan Rothschild.

The group also named streets in Chicago (Lincoln Avenue); St. Louis (South Grand Boulevard); Waterloo, New York (Main Street); and Kirkland, Washington (Park Lane), as part of its annual list.

Since launching the Great Places in America program in 2007, the association has recognized 275 neighborhoods, streets and public spaces around the country.

“The year’s designees demonstrate that a well-planned street can stimulate the economy, create a sense of place and energize an entire community,” said Cynthia Bowen, president of the association, in the news release.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at or 573-4197. On Twitter: @JoeFerguson