Today, 25th Street in Ogden will be named one of the 10 Great Streets in America.
The American Planning Association (APA) has ranked the nation’s greatest streets, and ranks Ogden’s 25th Street — a three-block stretch from Wall Avenue to Washington Boulevard — with the like of Broadway, in New York City, and Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.
Each year, the APA names 30 exemplary streets, neighborhoods and public spaces that add value to communities and foster economic growth and jobs. APA’s Great Streets, Great Neighborhoods and Great Public Spaces feature unique and authentic characteristics that have evolved from years of thoughtful and deliberate planning by residents, community leaders and planners. Streets like Ogden’s 25th Street represent “the gold standard in terms of having a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement, and a vision for tomorrow.”
“Recognizing these special places highlights the role planning plays in adding value to communities,” said William Anderson, FAICP, president of APA. “Planners, working with others, help build better communities in a variety of settings, from urban to rural; the result – better neighborhoods, cities, and regions. We applaud these efforts and congratulate this year’s designees.”
Here is the group’s official description of Ogden’s 25th Street:
25th Street in Ogden, Utah, serves as the town’s commercial thoroughfare and features the most complete contiguous selection of turn-of-the-century commercial architecture in the state.
But the history of the town and its development are the source for Ogden’s mystique. Ogden was chosen to be the junction city of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads in 1874.
The street became known as “Notorious 25th Street” due to its constant activity, particularly gambling, opium dens, bootlegging and brothels. Presidents Taft, Hoover and Theodore Roosevelt, along with “Buffalo Bill” Cody were among the celebrities known to visit the street.
The decline of rail service led to the decay of 25th Street in the 1950s and 60s, when property owners and the Junior League began to organize a Historic Preservation Committee. The 25th Street Master plan in 1977 was followed by a Listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and a 25 th Street redevelopment district was created in 1979.
Today, 25th Street draws crowds with its local restaurants, merchant displays, amphitheater and variety of year-round events. Situated at the base of the Wasatch Mountains, the city has also become a Rocky Mountain hub for the outdoor industry. Construction is also underway for pedestrian, bike and additional transit connections.
Also known as “Two-bit street” or “Historic 25th,” this street serves as the commercial thoroughfare, running east to west through downtown Ogden. The history and architecture add to the street’s charm, with the most complete contiguous selection of turn of the century commercial architecture in the state of Utah. The street remains a symbol of the impact of the transcontinental railroad in Ogden as the junction between the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads. The architecture of late 1800s and early 1900s is significant in its designation as a National Historic District, but the stories behind the buildings create its uniqueness.
25th Street’s development was underway following the construction of the original Union Station on the west end of the street in 1889. Wooden buildings were torn down to make way for brick structures that reflected the neo-classical architecture of the time. Businesses along 25th Street catered to the travelers visiting Ogden including popular hotels, lodging houses, saloons, restaurants, cigar shops and clothing stores. The street became known as “Notorious 25th Street” due to its constant activity, particularly gambling, opium dens, bootlegging and brothels. This created the mystique of the street that lives on today.
The decline of rail service led to the decay of 25th Street in the 1950s and 1960s. Property owners and the Junior League began taking interest in the street, and organized a Historic Preservation Committee. Together, these two groups led the city in developing the 25th Street Master plan in 1977. Physical upgrades were made to the street over the decades, including renovating vacant buildings, infrastructure upgrades to sidewalks, street lighting, and tree planting. Today, 25th Street draws in crowds with its outdoor dining areas, local restaurants, merchant displays, amphitheater, aesthetically pleasing features and variety of year-round events.
New this year, APA is seeking input from the public for the “31st Great Place Designee.” Interested citizens can nominate their Great Place by commenting on APA’s Facebook page or via Twitter using hashtag #mygreatplace. The “31st Great Place Designee” will be announced on Friday, October 31, 2014.
Ready to get inspired to improve your town’s Main Street? Check out this listing of how Ogden’s 25th Street became one of the greatest streets in America:
- Ogden was chosen to be the junction city of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads (1874)
- 25th Street was the first street in the city to receive 25 car loads of gravel pavement (1885) and the first paved street in the city (1893) when board walks were replaced with paved walkways
- Union Station was completed at the west end of 25th Street (1889), and rebuilt after being destroyed in a fire (1924)
- Famous figures were known to parade along 25th Street including: President Taft, Hoover and Theodore Roosevelt, and “Buffalo Bill” Cody
- During World War II troops heading east or west would pass through Ogden for a brief layover, often engaging in rowdy activities along 25thStreet
Planning and Preservation Accomplishments
- 25th Street Master Plan was adopted (1977)
- Listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1978)
- 25th Street redevelopment district was created (1979)
- The street was originally designed as part of a typical grid pattern, and as part of the redevelopment in 1980, travel lanes were reduced, sidewalks were widened and angled parking among other amenities were introduced
- Placed on the local Ogden Register of Historic Places (1981)
- The Historic 25th Street Association was established to maintain the street and enhance activities and amenities, the association now represents over 60 locally-owned businesses
- New construction guidelines were adopted for 25th Street (1996), the city hired Nore Winter, an Urban Design and Planning Consultant
- Current construction is underway to create a separate pedestrian and bike link along Grant Avenue to connect 25th Street with the Ogden River
- Recent plans were proposed to encourage development of a circulator transit loop that connects the commuter rail station with other retail and housing areas downtown
Features and Events
- Situated at the base of the Wasatch Mountains, the city has become a Rocky Mountain hub for the outdoor industry
- Seven kiosks designed by Infinite Scale Design reflect the railroad history of the street, displaying various stories about 25th Street as well as upcoming events
- “Horses” is a public art project, when dozens of hand-painted, fiberglass horse sculptures are displayed along 25th Street each summer in celebration of Pioneer Days
- Amphitheater and the redesign of the surrounding block incorporating open spaces (2000) was completed; the facility serves as a community gathering space for events
- Popular annual and weekly events include: Xterra USA Championship, USA Cycling Masters Road Championships, Tour of Utah, Ogden Arts Festival, Farmers Market, 1st Friday Arts Stroll, Ogden Horse Parade, Car Show, Harvestmoon Festival, Witchstock, Christmas Village
What do you think? Do you think your town represents great civic planning? Or not? Comment below!