Parks are what make cities liveable. That is to say, while parks themselves are not sufficient for the creation of great cities, great cities without parks are oxymoronic. And given that our is an urban century, and that many of the largest cities of the coming century are still forming themselves, understanding how to make good parks is a pretty critical skill.
Thankfully, then, Project for Public Spaces has just released a special parks issue of their newsletter Making Places.
It's jammed full of interesting features, from a rundown of this summer's Great Parks/Great Cities conference in London to a list of the best and worst parks in the world. (Plaza Hidalgo in Mexico City is number one, with the Luxembourg Gardens and Central Park following. Also making the list: Barcelona's Parc Guell, Stockholm's Kungsträdgården, San Francisco's Golden Gate Park and Vancouver's Stanley Park.)
But the highlights are the how-to essays: Six Parks We Can All Learn From, an overview of the conflict between parks as public spaces and parks as aesthetic experiences a great links page and the resource site Urban Parks Online.
There's enough great stuff here to keep you reading through a long Sunday afternoon on the Great Lawn, but there are some glaring gaps. What, for example, is changing about parks? How has, for instance, the increased availability of Wifi in New York's parks changed their nature? Or how can we balance the need for parks as public spaces with the utility of parks in restoring ecological systems? Cities are changing: how can parks change with them?
Thanks for the post! We are evolving our thinking about parks, and attempting to incorporate some of the issues brought up by you. Our most immediate step is to think about parks as civic gathering places where balance between ecology, human activity and the built environment can work in harmony. In some ways, we like that "wireless technologies," in which I'm going to lump everything from cell phones to Wi-Fi for the sake of convenience, is an enabler that brings people to public spaces, because it allows them to enjoy anonymity while being in the middle of a thriving place. Please visit our site every so often to check in on how the parks program continues to take shape.