In a ranking of California's best and worst mid-sized city downtowns, California Planning & Development Report concluded that Pasadena's reputation is well-earned. Many say the transformation has been miraculous -- and it continues today.
California has nearly 100 mid-sized cities, and they offer some of the state's most delightful urban places. Some of the cities on CP&DR's list may be surprises, but the best downtowns have a lot in common.
"If you were to visit any of the downtowns in our top 5, you would find a very strong sense of place. What all five cities have in common is that they are grounded in a history in which their downtowns served as significant regional commercial centers for a broad area. This factor helps account for their magnificent public realm and architecture, which almost all of them have."
On the other end of the spectrum are downtowns that have been distressed for decades. "Some have been the scene of failed revitalization plans, while others have simply been ignored." But, as the Pasadena story shows, these downtowns don't have to remain down forever.