Pittsfield's Public Square

The newly restored Color Guard statue looks over the Park of Honor display for Veterans' Day.

The newly restored Color Guard statue looks over the Park of Honor display for Veterans' Day.

As Strong Towns asks as part of its "strength test" for a town: Can you immediately think of a place in your town where the public were to gather in the event of a revolution? It may be an extreme question, but it's one that's designed to induce a gut reaction. Luckily Pittsfield has had one of those since its original settlement: Park Square.  This place serves as (0,0) on our city grid, the focal point for our civic eye, and a bit of a green oasis for the asphalt and concrete on the surrounding blocks.

Whenever I come across a new town while I'm exploring Google Earth, either for route-finding, following up to an article I've read, or just while wasting time, I'll look to see if I can find a town center from the air, on the street or satellite map.  It could either be a Main Street, a center square, or some kind of well-placed civic monument or building. If I cannot find one, I'll ask myself, where does the town get the chance to reflect its pride? Where is the sounding board? If the answer is the Home Depot parking lot or the interstate off ramp, it might be time to look for a square.