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Editorial: Parks the Shiny New Symbols Cities Want

The new, 12-acre Discovery Green in Houston is spurring development and has given the city a shiny centerpiece.

The new, 12-acre Discovery Green in Houston is spurring development and has given the city a shiny centerpiece.

After decades of bad politics, missed connections, lost opportunities, and fading beauty, parks are on the comeback, says an editorial for the September issue of Parks & Recreation (pdf) magazine by Peter Harnik. The piece looks at parks’ renewed standing in cities — and how the time is right for advocates to push them:

For city park advocates the iron is now hot. From Millennium Park on down, we have a stream of shiny new symbols as powerful in the urban realm as an Empire State Building, a Camden Yards stadium, a Golden Gate Bridge, a towering Los Angeles freeway interchange, a Washington Metro system, or a Rock and Roll Museum. There are hugely powerful economic and social forces at work in our cities, and we can proudly assert ourselves among the biggest of them. We’ve got the beautiful and animated space around which they can build their structures, house their residents, welcome their workers, lure their tourists, and provide a destination for their transit.

While there may be a sour economy at the moment, the fact is that urban parks might actually be working to hold up property values and can be used as a tool to re-place our urban economies on solid ground.

3 Responses

  1. This is very much true. Here in Cincinnati the development of the new crown jewel of the Cincinnati Park System has started with the groundbreaking for the Central Riverfront Park. Parks should be a central focus for all cities as they provide critical green and recreational space for their citizens. On top of all that they are usually a draw for tourists when they come to town. All in all seems like a win, win.

  2. We’re hearing more about the new Riverfront Park, and that it is now getting underway. Will be exciting to see the new riverfront right in the heart of the city.

  3. Yes, they just broke ground on phase 1 of the new Riverfront Park which will be completed around the same time as phase 1 of The Banks development. The more recent exciting news is the proposal to connect the Ohio River Bike Trail to the new park with a bike hub that includes showers, lockers, and everything.

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