Welcome to our Elite Eight round of the Strongest Town Competition. We invite you to view the photographs that representatives from these two towns have submitted to showcase their strength and resilience, and judge them based on Strong Towns principles. Please scroll down to the bottom to vote for the strongest!


Hoboken, NJ

Entry submitted by: Philip Jonat

This photo of the Hoboken Terminal shows some of the transportation options described in the first round description of the town. Hoboken has the lowest rates of car commuting in the country; only around 30% of residents drive cars to work. The copper roofed building is the historic Hoboken Terminal building, completed in 1907. To the right of this photo is the buses, rail, subway, and light rail options, along with a walking path to Jersey City’s Newport neighborhood. Directly behind this photo are additional bicycles from the new bike share program.

Hoboken’s first major industry was shipping as depicted in the 1954 Marlon Brando movie, On the Waterfront. Today, only one shipping related business remains, though the City has rebounded with other industries. Several shipping piers have been repurposed as parks to give people access to unparalleled views of Manhattan. Pier A park (shown in the picture) was the first park constructed in Hoboken in 1999 to bring people back to the Hudson River waterfront. Several parks have been built as Hoboken looks to develop more green space for its residents to enjoy. The Fund for a Better Waterfront is a local non-profit group that has been leading urban planning efforts for waterfront parks and public access to the river since 1992. See below for more details on the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway park.

Hoboken has famously narrow streets with parked cars on both sides which keeps traffic speeds low and protects people on the sidewalks. The City has recently been narrowing the streets further using best practices from around the globe. This corner features bollards and a bicycle rack to help daylight a corner that is heavily used by school children. Other corners use curb extensions to reduce the potential conflict zone further. These have often started as cheap paint and bollards, but physical curb extensions have been implemented at some of the busiest intersections in town. Future curb extensions will include stormwater management techniques such as bioswales. Stormwater management has been  recognized as critical to the future of the City after Hurricane Sandy destroyed large parts of the City.

Everyone is a pedestrian within town. Rain or snow, people still find a way to walk (or bike) home. This picture is taken along the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, part of the Fund for Better Waterfront and New Jersey’s plan for an 18 mile linear urban park connecting towns all along the Hudson River. The Hudson River is on the right side of this photo, while many popular dining establishments are on the left.

The Arts & Music festival is the biggest festival held within the city, with over 300 vendors and thousands of visitors. It is held during both the spring and during the fall every year to showcase local talent. The event eliminates cars from Washington Street, our main street for 10 blocks. This photo shows several popular local businesses, including the original world famous Carlos Bake Shop, featured on TLC’s “Cake Boss.” Small local restaurants, commercial, and retail are found both on Washington Street and throughout the town. 

All photos from the City of Hoboken


Hopkins, MN

Entry submitted by: James Warden (Zoning & Planning Commission member), Kersten Elverum (Director of Economic Development & Planning), and Meg Beekman (Community Development Coordinator).

Photo by DnK Photography

Photo by DnK Photography

As part of the city’s continuing efforts to protect and enhance the downtown core, the city underwent a $5 million dollar reconstruction of Mainstreet in 2015. The project included upgrading sewer and water facilities to allow for additional capacity for future development, making every intersection ADA compliant, reconstructing Clock Tower Plaza to make it a more attractive and functional community gathering space, and giving Mainstreet an overall facelift with new street furniture and fresh paint. The city worked with its businesses during construction to minimize impacts. The project is now done, and Mainstreet has never looked so good. 

Photo by DnK Photography

Photo by DnK Photography

Hopkins was voted 13th friendliest town by Forbes Magazine in part because of the many community festivals held year-round. Many of the city’s most famous festivals, such as the Raspberry Festival and Music in the Park, are put on not by the city itself, but by dedicated community groups. Hopkins has a wealth of civic organizations that continually partner with the city to put on events, raise money for capital park projects, and provide a network of volunteers that can be relied on to lend a helping hand when needed. 

Photo by Kersten Elverum

Photo by Kersten Elverum

This photo was taken at a ribbon cutting for Cottageville Park in the fall of 2015. This park project was the epitome of the city’s willingness to forge partnerships to get a project done. This pocket park was an eye soar for the community and a haven for criminal activity. The City, together with its planning staff, public works, and police department, partnered with the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District to acquire land to triple the size of the park, making it visible from all sides, daylight the creek, install new play equipment and a community garden, and create a massive great lawn for the community to enjoy. This project took a liability for the community and made it into a regional asset. The surrounding community, mostly immigrant populations, were heavily involved in the planning for the park. In addition, the city’s many civic and religious organizations banded together to raise funds to install a pavilion, which will allow the school district to provide community programming. The pavilion will be completed in the summer of 2016.    

Photo by DnK Photography

Photo by DnK Photography

The city has a farmer’s market from early May through the end of October every Saturday morning. Not only does the market provide fresh, affordable, and sustainable food for Hopkins residents, but it also provides a community gathering place. The city uses the event to get the word out about things happening in Hopkins and to gather input on community projects. The city is able to reach residents that it wouldn’t otherwise be able to if traditional open houses at City Hall were the only method of outreach.

Photo by James Warden

Photo by James Warden

This last photo was taken at the city’s Artery Experiment event. This was a three-day pop-up demonstration event designed to gather feedback for the Artery project, a reconstruction of 8th Avenue between the future Downton Hopkins LRT station and Mainstreet. The project included a temporary cycle track, connecting two major regional trails and narrowing the street to expand the pedestrian realm. The Artery Experiment also featured pop up art displays, interactive art installations, music, food, bicycle tune-up services, and games to engage the community and maximize the city’s opportunity to gather input. Approximately 2,000 people came out on one of the days to test out the cycle track and learn about the Artery project.  

(Top graphic by Matthias Leyrer)


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