America's Most Beautiful Neighborhoods
Nik Wheeler/ Alamy
Stroll these beautiful neighborhoods for the eye candy, the Americana, and the locals’ perspective on a city.
planner Jeff Soule remembers the moment he fully appreciated the beauty of Baltimore’s
Charles Village. He was leading a tour through tree-lined streets of cheery row
houses when it started to pour. “I was with 20 visiting Chinese mayors, and
there was this wonderful African American woman—not only did she invite
everyone up on her porch, but she made them all lemonade.”
design and green spaces go a long way toward making a neighborhood attractive,
but the most beautiful neighborhoods are also enriched by this kind of welcoming
community spirit. And they tend to resonate with American history, whether recalling
a bygone way of life (the South of Broad area of Charleston) or acting as an
open-air museum that showcases the work of iconic architects.
Oak Park, for instance, counts 23 of Frank Lloyd Wright’s modestly elegant,
low-slung buildings, but the Americana runs even deeper: 90 percent of the
neighborhood is classified as a historic district. No resident is more than two
blocks from a bikeway, and the neighborhood is easily reached on the El train.
modern developers strive to manufacture an instant neighborhood-y feel and to
create the kind of pastiche that a gorgeous, lived-in neighborhood possesses
naturally. But Soule, director of outreach for the American Planning
Association, says he hasn’t found many areas developed in the last 25 years
that tick all the boxes: “A lot of newer neighborhoods haven’t stood the test
of time yet.”
and struggling neighborhoods alike can look to the Paseo in Oklahoma City as a
success story. This artists’ colony of Spanish Revival 1920s bungalows was
marred by mid-century gang violence. But unfazed artists moved in, taking
advantage of low property values, and eventually brought the neighborhood back to
a state of homey, charming bohemianism—just two miles from downtown.
and authenticity are valued as much by travelers as by prospective residents.
After all, making a detour to one of these beautiful neighborhoods isn’t just
visually pleasing—it can reveal a city at its most genuine. You may not
be offered free lemonade, but you may still want to move in tomorrow.