Urban Parks: From Dumping Grounds to Centers of Energy

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Discovery Green
Discovery Green / © Hargreaves Associates
Discovery Green
Discovery Green / © Hargreaves Associates

A major initiative by New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver cogently explored at the recent and fascinating Parks Without Borders Summit is to make parks more porous and accessible and, by extension, to foster park equity, the idea that all parks are well maintained.

This comes during one of the most exciting periods in modern urban history in which parks have gone from being dumping grounds perceived as dangerous to centers of energy. This renaissance has been brought about by forward-thinking municipal officials, public-private partnerships such as the Central Park Conservancy and the Prospect Park Alliance, along with the support and advocacy of New Yorkers for Parks, the New York Restoration Project, the Trust for Public Land, and other savvy, resourceful and entrepreneurial groups.

This would have been unthinkable a generation or so ago, but the city’s parks have come a long way. Central and Prospect Parks, jewels created by Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. and Calvert Vaux, have been rewoven into the city and the relatively new High Line (one of the city’s best non-prescription mood elevators), has unequivocally demonstrated the potential for pairing historic preservation and design, as well as landscape architecture, architecture and horticulture – the project is by James Corner Field Operations (project lead), Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Piet Oudolf. […]

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