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It’s All Happening at the Park

by Jay Walljasper - May 7, 2008

New York is inconceivable without Central Park. Vancouver would never be the same without its famous urban forest, Stanley Park.

And I can't even imagine my home, Minneapolis, lacking the lakeside parks where I skate and ski in the winter, swim and canoe in the summer, bike and walk all year-round-- all right in the middle of the city.

Let's face it: Urban living would be a lot less pleasant and fun without the great, green spaces created by visionary civic leaders in the 19th century. 
City parks are an American treasure in the same way as our world-famous national parks.

Thankfully, the vision of creating great parks for the people is being revived in the 21st century. USA Today reports that a new wave of urban parks is now being created, thanks to voters' willingness to approve referendums that fund the purchase of remaining open space in metropolitan areas.

Memphis, Tennessee; Birmingham, Alabama; Atlanta; Staten Island, New York; and Irvine, California, are among the places getting major new parks-- all of which will be larger in size than Manhattan's 843-acre Central Park.

The excitement is about more than just big parks. Detroit has boosted its ailing downtown by turning Campus Martius into the city's new hot spot. Although less than two acres, it attracts throngs of people for concerts, ice skating, gardens, fountains and a café, drawing $500 million of new investment into neighboring blocks.