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Parkways for People

Separated bike path, pedestrian path, and seating on Ocean Parkway

Separated bike path, pedestrian path, and seating on Ocean Parkway

The New York Times recently highlighted Ocean Parkway, one of the earliest examples of a parkway in the U.S. and designed by Olmsted and Vaux. Constructed in 1876, the five-mile Ocean Parkway stretches from the heart of the borough to Coney Island. The Times describes its mix of users and lively feel:

Every layer of the boulevard is a world, separated from the next by trees. First, the dwellings, from the two-story micro-mansions on deep lots near Avenue U to the apartment blocks further north with names like Imperial Gardens. Then there are the service roads, the scenes of mild-mannered evening parking arguments. Next come the malls, for biking and vodka-fueled domino scrums. Finally, at the center of the parkway, cars hug one another in six narrow lanes, and ambulances regularly tear through a seventh, a turning lane.

Olmsted and others designed parkway systems that were built in many U.S. cities – Boston’s Emerald Necklace, Minneapolis’ Grand Rounds, the boulevards and parkways of Denver, Buffalo, Louisville, Chicago and more. Including bike paths, seating, tables, lighting, attractive walking paths, rest stop areas featuring gardens, public art and even recreational elements can make them more than thoroughfares – but park-ways – as their name implies.

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