The Best Parks Combine Public Space Usage With Community Identity

The use of public space plays a significant role in determining a city's identity. Great parks are more than just recreational outlets, they reflect their community

The use of public spaces–and how they benefit the community–has become an integral part of community viability discussions.

It is perfectly logical to believe that the more discussion and planning that go into public space development, the spaces or parks themselves will achieve the type of quality a particular city is looking for.

As the importance of green public space increases, the need for an identifiable park in the city grows. B What determines a successful public space or a great park? B A great park is distinguishable in part by its ability to reflect and define the identity of the city in which it resides. B It is more than just the use of green space that sets a great park apart from an average park. B The park must maintain the living essence of the city.

An example of a park that not only identifies with its community– but manages its space superbly in order to accommodate heavy activity– is Central Park in New York City. B Central Park is managed by several entities, including the Central Park Conservancy. B It is this deftB and effective coordination that allows the park to handle a wide array of activities all year round. B The community is invested in the park’s success as well. B There are literally thousands of volunteers, dedicated to overseeing activities, restoration projects, as well as maintenance projects for the park. B Central Park also offers signature attractions and landmarks that act as connective tissue between the park and the city. B Few people can disassociate theB Strawberry Fields Memorial and the Bow Bridge–both in Central Park–B from New York City. Central Park clearly reflects the vibrancy and energy of the city in which it resides–and the residents of New York City clearly reciprocate.

According to Project for Public Spaces, there are nine strategies for achieving great parks:

  • Use transit as a catalyst for attracting visitors
  • Make management of the park a central concern
  • Develop strategies to attract people during different seasons
  • Acquire diverse funding sources
  • Design the park layout for flexibility
  • Consider both the binner parkb and bouter parkb
  • Provide amenities for the different groups of people using the park
  • Create attractions and destinations throughout the park
  • Create an identity and image for the park

The City of Aspen makes great use of its public spaces, with several parks that reflect the diversity of opportunity for pleasure, and combine that with its abundant green space. B Parks such as Rio Grande and Wagner showcase their versatility by not only playing host to athletic endeavors, but also hosting world class events such as the Food and Wine Festival. B These parks help the city celebrate the over 1,000 acres of open space with the public, who continue to thrive as they enjoy the natural resources of the city.

photo courtesy of Evgeni Dinev‘s portfolio

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