Blacksburg 16 Squares

Present day Blacksburg is the result of 2 planned communities; the first being the colonial era Draper’s Meadow and Smithfield Plantation; the second being the 1798 16 Squares. Ample evidence of two centuries of Blacksburg’s history and development still exists within the perimeter of the 16 Squares. The streets that extend from the original grid also offer tangible evidence of evolving Blacksburg’s history.

A town-appointed citizens’ group, the 16 Squares Committee, has been working to make the history and importance of the 16 Squares more evident to the general public. The Community Design Assistance Center (CDAC) was approached by the Town of Blacksburg to develop a document to express a plan for the 16 Squares to the community that can then be used as a learning tool and to request funding for implementation. Important objectives identified by the 16 Squares Committee that framed the focus of CDAC’s work included identify, educate, preserve, and develop:

1. Identify via physical signage, pavement changes, or other means, the 16 Squares and the important assets within them.

2. Educate the public including residents, visitors, and students about the importance of the 16 Squares.

3. Preserve the unique character and assets of the 16 Squares as well as its viewsheds and surrounding properties.

4. Develop strategies for strengthening the commercial district and creating cultural institutions. This includes promoting appropriate type
urban housing that will increase vested interest and ownership in the area and serve as an economic stimulus to the downtown center, paying special attention to its history and assets.

Within the 16 Squares, Blacksburg retains a sense of the small town that should be enhanced and preserved for future generations. However, it is important to realize that the 16 Squares have always been a dynamic element, with buildings and land changing throughout its history. The 16 Squares will continue to have a future of development, but that development should be appropriate. This project is a step towards defining appropriate development for the 16 Squares and making people more aware of a sense of time and place in Blacksburg.

To view the final report, click on the link below:

- Final report: 16 Squares: The Heart of Blacksburg