Mother Earth Living

Green Neighborhoods: America's Top 10 Best Eco-Neighborhoods

The greenest neighborhoods in the United States.
By Karen Romer
January/February 2007
Add to My MSN

Marcy-Holmes Fifth Street Historic District in Minneapolis
Photo by JTA Tucker

Content Tools

Related Content

America's Top 10 Best Green-Built Neighborhoods

Natural Home chooses its top 10 favorite eco-friendly, energy-efficient planned communities in the U...

Nominate Your Green Cohousing Community

Natural Home is taking submissions from innovative eco-cohousing developments in the United States a...

Prefabulous: A Pocket Neighborhood Home in Concord, Massachusetts

Explore this charming cottage nestled in a pocket community in Concord, Massachusetts.

America's Top 10 Green Housing Developments

Our picks for America's best green housing developments emphasize communities working toward sustain...

Our picks for the country’s top urban neighborhoods encourage the healthy, eco-conscious good life. These burgs boast community involvement; shopping, libraries and schools within a walkable area; public transportation; and locally owned businesses.

Some are more affordable than others, but most have mixed-income housing and relatively diverse populations. They encompass environmental and/or social programs; parks, green spaces and neighborhood gathering spaces; farmer’s markets and community gardens; and sometimes alternative-energy programs and green building practices.

1. Asheville, North Carolina

West Asheville neighborhood
Revitalized in the 1990s, West Asheville has affordable, renovated and fixer-upper bungalows and cottages plus a fashionable commercial district, tree-lined streets, historic architecture and a small-community feel.

Curb appeal
• Array of locally owned businesses: bookstores, coffee houses, community centers and restaurants
• Two farmer’s markets, plus access to fresh, organic and locally produced food at a community food co-op
• Diverse mix of singles, young families and older residents
• Plans for a revamped problem intersection, including a medicinal herb garden, info kiosk, bike rack, benches, sculpture garden

2. Austin, Texas

South Congress neighborhood
Located near downtown Austin, South Congress (SoCo) has  a lively commercial district full of retro shops, boutiques, neighborhood bars and coffee shops, mixed-use and mixed-priced housing, and outdoorsy orientation.

Curb appeal
• Local markets and groceries; year-round organic farmer’s market
• Sustainable food center and organic community garden
• Affordable alternative-energy options, including big rebates for solar-panel installation and a green-power program
• Very walkable and cyclable; bus system on the city’s central line

3. Bozeman, Montana

Downtown area
Known for its friendly, laid-back Rocky Mountain atmosphere, Bozeman’s historic downtown features rows of restored redbrick storefronts filled with art galleries, boutiques, eateries, a cultural arts center and nearby parks.

Curb appeal
• Two farmer’s markets and a food co-op
• More than 50 homegrown community programs that create collaborations between city government, grassroots groups, businesses, nonprofits, schools and churches
• 25-mile multi-use trail system called “Main Street to the Mountains”
• Growth plan that promotes high-density housing, urban infill, narrow streets, detached garages, front porches
• Refuge Sustainable Building Center that sells eco-building materials
• Open-space preservation along Bozeman Creek

4. Brooklyn, New York

Park Slope neighborhood
Resurgent Park Slope is only 4 miles from Manhattan and features charming Victorian brownstones, townhouses and apartments, a stimulating cultural scene and family-friendly ambiance.

Curb appeal
• Nation’s largest member-owned and operated food co-op
• Five subway stops and a bus route
• Activist community projects: restoring bluestone sidewalks, hosting first citywide household hazardous-waste collection day, intensive recycling pilot program
• Recreational areas, a zoo, bandstand, ponds, a lagoon and picnic grounds in 526-acres Prospect Park. Nearby Brooklyn Museum and Brooklyn Botanic Garden free to the public at least two days per week

5. Chicago, Illinois

Andersonville neighborhood
Located near Lake Michigan, Andersonville has strong Swedish roots, a unique commercial district, and well-preserved vintage walk-up flats and apartments.

Curb appeal
• Revival of Clark Street’s locally owned cafés, antique shops, galleries, experimental theaters, bookstores and other shops
• Mix of people and cultures: many female business owners, Middle Eastern restaurants, thriving Hispanic commercial area
• Two community gardens; a dozen nearby parks
• Cheap rent compared with other area neighborhoods

6. Denver, Colorado

Highland neighborhood
Near downtown Denver, Highland is an ethnically diverse neighborhood that blends restored Victorian-era homes with small mixed-use developments, new housing and a hip commercial area.

Curb appeal
• Great community vibe with Art Walks and Third Thursday celebrations featuring live music and shopping specials
• Eclectic shops, fine dining
• Parks, community gardens, bike trails, farmer’s market
• Soon-to-be-completed pedestrian bridge over I-25 that will link Highland with downtown Denver

7. Indianapolis, Indiana

Fall Creek Place neighborhood
Once blighted, the inner-city neighborhood of Fall Creek Place boasts a mixed-income community with both restored and new single-family homes and an upcoming mixed-use retail center.

Curb appeal
• Plenty of green space and parks, including a new greenway along Fall Creek
• Public infrastructure improvements: new sidewalks, street and alley resurfacing, historic lighting, tree planting
• Neighborhood programs: social events, community cleanups, crime-watch initiatives
• Housing affordable for low- and moderate-income homeowners

8. Minneapolis, Minnesota

Marcy-Holmes neighborhood
Located on the east bank of the Mississippi River within walking distance of the University of Minnesota, Marcy-Holmes is home to two business districts with unique shops and restaurants, numerous eco-programs and public art displays.

Curb appeal
• Lots of bike lanes and a pedestrian bridge (Stone Arch Bridge) that links to downtown Minneapolis
• Grants available for house/apartment rental rehabilitations
• 15 community gardens and several parks
• Neighborhood eco-programs: riverbank cleanups, tree  planting, green roof program, rainwater recycling project

9. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mount Airy neighborhood
A Northwest neighborhood known for its racial diversity, Mount Airy has several thriving commercial districts with lots of mom-and-pop-style boutiques and eateries, architectural diversity and a strong community.

Curb appeal
• Food co-op and farmer’s market
• Lots of green space with pocket parks, community garden and local arboretum
• Easy access to public transportation and to Philly Car Share, a citywide shared car service
• Lots of environmental organizations, including Friends of Philadelphia Parks, Mount Airy Greening Network and a community recycling program

10. Seattle, Washington

Ballard neighborhood
Located in northwest Seattle close to downtown, the Ballard neighborhood has a rich maritime history, Scandinavian roots, varied architecture and an energetic business district with nightlife, coffee shops, boutiques, wine bars and a lively music scene.

Curb appeal
• Lots of trees, nearby parks, access to kayaking and sailing
• Roof with 18,000 low-water-use plants atop the Ballard Branch of the Seattle Public Library.
• Successful curbside recycling program
• High-density neighborhood: empty lots transformed into condos; run-down industrial sites razed and turned into homes
• Green, LEED-certified condos in Hjärta (“heart” in Swedish) building

Previous | 1 | 2 | 3 | Next

Post a comment below.



Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.