Bristol is on the road to revitalization — and according to the American Planning Association, State Street is a shining example.

The national organization recently added the Twin City’s main thoroughfare to its Great Places program, which recognizes streets, neighborhoods and public spaces for demonstrating exceptional character, quality and planning.

APA President Earl Anderson said Monday, “Bristol was nominated for State Street for the work both localities have been doing on the street itself. You have two cities in two different states with two different sets of legislatures and governors and they are still able to come together and work collaboratively to revitalize this area.”

This award means that Bristol is punching above its weight class again, joining past winners Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis, Norfolk, Alexandria, Williamsburg and Charlottesville in the program.

Residents of both cities should be proud, especially comparing today’s downtown to the city years ago. Like much of the country, Bristol was affected by the outward migration from Main Streets that led to the construction of a mall, and serious flooding threw the downtown area even further behind as regional industry changed the local economy. Now, State Street boasts burgeoning hotels, distilleries, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum, the Rhythm & Roots Reunion festival, art galleries, antique stores and scores of great restaurants. And more could be coming to the downtown area with the possibility of passenger rail service and new industry.

This is also a moment to applaud the work of Believe in Bristol. The organization is largely responsible for engineering many of the innovations downtown, especially in its work to expand the town’s existing economic base, to enhance the character and history of downtown, and to emphasize the arts in Bristol’s renaissance.

Give a hand to both Bristols for this accomplishment — and come out to celebrate with the whole town on Oct. 16.

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