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Enslischer Garten: Munich’s Back Yard


The Chinese Tower, Englischer Garten, Munich, http://www.wikipedia.org

Englischer Garten is probably the most well-known large municipal park in Munich, and perhaps the city’s most visited. Its landscape, features and pleasant gardens offer both respite from the city to relax or space to play (or “spielen” in German).

Along one of its ponds, the park’s beautiful outdoor beer garden is one of the most popular places for families and friends to gather in the city. Shown in the picture is the beer garden and the Chinese Tower, a 25-meter high wooden structure that was first constructed in 1790. (On July 13 1944, the original tower burned down after heavy bombing; but it a new tower, identical to the original was constructed 1952.) The tower and beer garden are a wonderful example of using public food and beverage amenities within a park, and an example of this European tradition that is less common in the United States.

Some more basics on the park: 914 acres/370 hectares; created in 1789, originally planned as a “military garden” that was open to the public and created from former hunting grounds of the local rulers.

Features: Japanese garden and teahouse, the open “Schönfeld meadow,” the Monopteros temple, the Chinese Tower, a 25 metre high wooden structure, 8.75 km of streams, over 100 bridges and several lakes, monuments and gardens.

Wikipedia contains a more lengthy description of the park and its history.

A 9/11 Survivor Blossoms in the Bronx

An interesting story about a tree from the World Trade Center site in New York City, saved after 9/11 and brought back to life in one of the city’s parks.

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more about "A 9/11 Survivor Blossoms in the Bronx", posted with vodpod

More about the tree here at the Times City Room blog.

Beijing’s Olympic Park, Post Olympics

Beijing’s new Olympic Forest Park, constructed for the 2008 summer Olympics was just profiled in the Bangkok Post (in English). The city’s largest park, at 680 hectres (about 1,680 acres) is proving to be a popular place with residents after the games left town. From the news story:

As the park was to be used as a civilian space and public park after the games, the Beijing government earmarked 2.2 billion Chinese yuan, or 11.6 billion baht for the project. Such an amount of money for a public park seems staggering. But Beijing – the ancient city with breathtaking gardens like the Summer Palace or Beihai Park near the Forbidden City – has a soft spot for parks and gardens.

Chinese people, said Hu Jie, also a native of Beijing, have a special love affair with public spaces. “Beijing residents love to hang out, socialise or exercise in public parks.”

For instance, at Ho Hai – a famous tourist spot around the lake and a green area, Chinese women practice aerobic dance until late at night. During the day, many people bring reclining chairs and tea pots are ubiquitous.

The above-linked article goes into the design and layout of the park.

D.C. National Parks Set for Some Improvements

Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C.

The Interior Department just announced that some of Washington, D.C.’s parks will receive funding for improvements and rehabilitation under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, including the National Mall and the large and maintenance-backlogged Rock Creek Park, the city’s largest park. The Washington Post:

The District of Columbia War Memorial, the domed temple to the city’s World War I veterans and once one of the jewels of the Mall, has since fallen into crumbling neglect, forgotten with the passage of time and generations.

Yesterday, the Department of the Interior announced that the government will spend $7.3 million on its restoration, along with $69.5 million in the Washington region to fix other eyesores, repair the Jefferson Memorial seawall and rehabilitate infrastructure in Rock Creek Park.

More than $30 million will go to fix the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool, and several million will go to the Jefferson Memorial, where the seawall has been slowly slipping into the Tidal Basin for years.

The government will also spend $12 million on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, about $3 million on Arlington House, the historic mansion in Arlington Cemetery, and $5 million on Rock Creek Park, the department said.

As the article points out, however, this is only a drop in the bucket for rehabilitating the capital’s beleagured national parks (which constitute most of the city’s parkland). The Mall alone has a $400 million improvement backlog – and anyone who visits can easily see the need. Regardless, this seems to be an important first step.

Summary on Health-Parks Connection

Where can I find something to give me a summary on the relationship of parks and health? This is a question we here quite a bit. One good source that gives such an overview is an article in the Research Digest of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness from March, 2008. Some of the questions answered are:

  • What research is available on parks, recreation and physical activity?
  • What is the evidence that parks promote physical activity?
  • How much physical activity occurs within parks? and
  • What park characteristics/attributes shape physical activity?

What we like about this article is that it goes beyond the mere statment that parks can be beneficial and into what actually makes a park more health-promoting, such as evidence showing that park s with lighting, fountains and shaded areas have been associated with more physical activity. The report can be found in pdf here.