people’s park

urbanism with garvin – public parks

remember vaux-le-vicomte, near melun? garvin commented, ‘the world seemed rational’

think of italian park in the 16th century

french in the 17th century

english in the 18th century

key takeaways:

  • where do people do physical recreation? in private – home or around – in privately owned public spaces (semi private space, e.g. country club), or in open public parks?
  • public park as multi-purpose, multi echelon entity
  • government or municipality can invest in a park. e.g. drying a swamp, and collect rates from real estate around it and concessions within it.
  • trees as part of the public realm
  • interesting to assess planed communities
  • parks are not reserves, they are continuouly eveloving and will reflect differences in nature and society


public parks stated in london in mid 19th century. darby arboretum, birkenhead park. actually started as a consequence of a free day to workers and what to do with it. victoria park in london set up in 1845. fredrick olmsted, a failed farmer, then journalist, visited london and was fascinated with the fact that it is multi class.

his book: Walks and Talks of an American Farmer in England described the beauty of peoples parks

“five minutes of admiration, and a few more spent studying the manner in which art had been employed to obtain from nature so much beauty, and I was ready to admit that in democratic America there was nothing to be thought of as comparable with this People’s Garden”.

Olmsted also commented on the “perfection” of the gardening:

“I cannot undertake to describe the effect of so much taste and skill as had evidently been employed; I will only tell you, that we passed by winding paths, over acres and acres, with a constant varying surface, where on all sides were growing every variety of shrubs and flowers, with more than natural grace, all set in borders of greenest, closest turf, and all kept with consummate neatness”.

avenue fauche, in paris is a ‘parkway’ , brinign the park to the city.

riverside, IL a city designed inside a park.

some keys to public parks success:

  • need a sense of enlarged freedom
  • providing for pysical and mental health
  • fun, available to all

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