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City Parks: Your Own Yellowstone

Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis, Minn. (Wikipedia)

Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis, Minn. (Wikipedia)

Via the PPS blog (earlier printed in Parks and Recreation magazine), Jay Walljasper writes eloquently on the experiences city parks provide to urban dwellers. He writes:

How does owning a vacation house at Yosemite sound? Or a beach cottage near the shores of Acadia National Park? Do you dream of hiking the Grand Canyon right outside your front door, or taking a dip in Crater Lake after getting home from work?

This is not some far-fetched fantasy of zealots who want to privatize our national parks. Actually, it’s a pretty close description of my own modest home—and probably yours too. I live just a few blocks from Lake Harriet, a national treasure where I swim and x-country ski, walk in the woods and spot bald eagles soaring through the skies. And all of this happens right in the middle of inner city Minneapolis.

Lake Harriet, you see, is a city park, part of Minneapolis’s cherished Chain of Lakes. But chances are good you’ve got something similar near your own home. It may be a wading pool and woodpeckers instead of a lake and eagles, but it’s no less of a treasure.

City parks are your own Yellowstone—a spot to relax and reflect and revel in nature as well as to enjoy a picnic or shoot hoops. They can also be the neighborhood version of New York’s Times Square or Washington’s National Mall, providing a gathering point where you run into friends and feel a part of the action. The local park is often the place where we celebrate local festivals, play sports, attend community meetings, join classes, and ooh! at fireworks on the fourth of July.

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