Knoxville's got some great spaces - and one in particular is getting national recognition.

The American Planning Association is naming Market Square downtown to its 2017 list of "Great Public Spaces." The organization picks a handful each year from across the United States.

Market Square will formally get the honor 7 p.m. Friday, right before this week's showing of "Wall-E" at Movies on Market Square, according to a notice from the Metropolitan Planning Commission.

The space has come a long way in the last 15 years.

Knoxville's first city hall was located in the 1800s on Market Square. For decades the space offered bustling commerce including a huge Market House. The building caught fire in December 1959 and eventually was torn down.

By the 1980s, the area was slipping into neglect and abandon with only a few businesses hanging on. At night you'd hardly see anyone around.

In the late 1990s, the city started staging more public events there, and new shops and restaurants began to open.

The APA defines a great public space as one that can be anywhere in the public realm that promotes people hanging out with each other and that projects a sense of community. It has to be at least 10 years old.

It needs to be perceived as safe and accommodating to all with a design that's visually interesting. It should offer a unique or special character and be well maintained, according to the association.

Each year APA recognizes some of the best streets, neighborhoods and public spaces in America. Gay Street in 2012 made the APA's list of America's Great Streets.

Past Great Public Spaces include Chattanooga's Walnut Street Bridge, Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Mass., and Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs, Colo.