Top Ten Enlightened Suburbs

Peter Katz and Jay Walljasper pick ten notable suburbs that are breaking the mold and creating new, vibrant communities.

"1. Montgomery County, Maryland (Washington, D.C.)
A mostly affluent stretch of communities northwest of D.C., it?s home to probably the leftiest(?) burb anywhere (Takoma Park) and one of the very first New Urbanist communities (Kentlands). Montgomery County stands out as a national leader in preventing sprawl by preserving thousands of acres of farmland. It has also achieved impressive results on affordable housing by requiring developers to include 15 percent lower-income units in all major projects or subdivisions.

2. Tempe, Arizona (Phoenix)
Standard-issue Sun belt sprawl has been transformed into a genuinely lively town through smart redevelopment and historical restoration. Local planners capitalized on the presence of Arizona State University to create a lively main street that attracts shoppers, cultural patrons, and lovers of urban atmosphere from around the area.

3. Suisun City, California (Bay Area)
Once a tough town notorious for pollution, drugs, and crime, Suisun City took bold steps in revitalizing its waterfront, investing in its tatty downtown, and building a handsome city hall and two public plazas. To the surprise of numerous skeptics, it worked, and this suburb on the way to Sacramento is now enjoying a renaissance.

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