An urban park or metropolitan park, also known as a municipal park (North America) or a public park, public open space, or municipal gardens (UK), is a park in cities and other incorporated places to offer recreation and green space to residents of, and visitors to, the municipality. The design, operation and maintenance is usually done by government agencies, typically on the local level, but may occasionally be contracted out to a park conservancy, friends of group, or private sector company.
Common features of municipal parks include playgrounds, gardens, hiking, running and fitness trails or paths, bridle paths, sports fields and courts, public restrooms, boat ramps, and/or picnic facilities, depending on the budget and natural features available. Park advocates claim that having parks near urban residents, including within a 10-minute walk, provide multiple benefits.
A park is an area of open space provided for recreational use, usually owned and maintained by a local government. Grass is typically kept short to discourage insect pests and to allow for the enjoyment of picnics and sporting activities. Trees are chosen for their beauty and to provide shade, with an increasing emphasis on reducing an urban heat island effect.
Some early parks include the La Alameda de Hércules, in Seville, a promenaded public mall, urban garden and park built in 1574, within the historic center of Seville. The Városliget (City Park) in the City of Pest, what is today Budapest, Hungary, was a city property when afforestation started in the middle of the 18th century, from the 1790s with the clear aim to create a public park. Between 1799 and 1805 it was rented out to the Batthyány family to carry out such a project but the city had eventually taken back control and in 1813 announced a design competition to finally finish the park; works started in 1816.
An early purpose-built public park, although financed privately, was Princes Park in the Liverpool suburb of Toxteth. This was laid out to the designs of Joseph Paxton from 1842 and opened in 1843. The land on which the park was built was purchased by Richard Vaughan Yates, an iron merchant and philanthropist, in 1841 for £50,000. The creation of Princes Park showed great foresight and introduced a number of highly influential ideas. First and foremost was the provision of open space for the benefit of townspeople and local residents within an area that was being rapidly built up. Secondly it took the concept of the designed landscape as a setting for the suburban domicile (an idea pioneered by John Nash at Regent's Park in London) and re-fashioned it for the provincial town in a most original way. Nash's remodelling of St James's Park from 1827 and the sequence of processional routes he created to link The Mall with Regent's Park completely transformed the appearance of London's West End. With the establishment of Princes Park in 1842, Joseph Paxton did something similar for the benefit of a provincial town, albeit one of international stature by virtue of its flourishing mercantile sector. Liverpool had a burgeoning presence in global maritime trade before 1800, and during the Victorian era its wealth rivalled that of London itself.
The form and layout of Paxton's ornamental grounds, structured about an informal lake within the confines of a serpentine carriageway, put in place the essential elements of his much-imitated design for Birkenhead Park in Birkenhead. The latter commenced in 1843 with the help of public finance and deployed the ideas which Paxton had pioneered at Princes Park on a more expansive scale. Frederick Law Olmsted visited Birkenhead Park in 1850 and praised its qualities. Indeed, Paxton is widely credited as having been one of the principal influences on Olmsted and Calvert's design for New York's Central Park of 1857.
In The Politics of Park Design: A History of Urban Parks in America, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1982), Professor Galen Cranz identifies four phases of park design in the U.S. In the late 19th century, city governments purchased large tracts of land on the outskirts of cities to form "pleasure grounds": semi-open, charmingly landscaped areas whose primary purpose was to allow city residents, especially the workers, to relax in nature. As time passed and the urban area grew around the parks, land in these parks was used for other purposes, such as zoos, golf courses and museums. These parks continue to draw visitors from around the region and are considered regional parks, because they require a higher level of management than smaller local parks. According to the Trust for Public Land, the three most visited municipal parks in the United States are Central Park in New York, Lincoln Park in Chicago, Mission Bay Park in San Diego.
In the early 1900s, according to Cranz, U.S. cities built neighborhood parks with swimming pools, playgrounds and civic buildings, with the intention of Americanizing the immigrant residents. In the 1950s, when money became available after World War II, new parks continued to focus on both outdoor and indoor recreation with services, such as sports leagues using their ball fields and gymnasia. These smaller parks were built in residential neighborhoods, and tried to serve all residents with programs for seniors, adults, teens and children. Green space was of secondary importance.
As urban land prices climbed, new urban parks in the 1960s and after have been mainly pocket parks. One example of a pocket park is Chess Park in Glendale, California. The American Society of Landscape Architects gave this park a General Design Award of Honor in 2006. These small parks provide greenery, a place to sit outdoors, and often a playground for children.
All four types of park continue to exist in urban areas. Because of the large amount of open space and natural habitat in the former pleasure grounds, they now serve as important wildlife refuges, and often provide the only opportunity for urban residents to hike or picnic in a semi-wild area. However, city managers or politicians can target these parks as sources of free land for other uses. Partly for this reason, some of these large parks have "friends of X park" advisory boards that help protect and maintain their semi-wild nature.
Parks can be divided into active and passive recreation areas. Active recreation is that which has an urban character and requires intensive development. It often involves cooperative or team activity, including playgrounds, ball fields, swimming pools, gymnasiums, and skateparks. Active recreation such as team sports, due to the need to provide substantial space to congregate, typically involves intensive management, maintenance, and high costs. Passive recreation, also called "low intensity recreation" is that which emphasizes the open-space aspect of a park and allows for the preservation of natural habitat. It usually involves a low level of development, such as rustic picnic areas, benches and trails. Passive recreation typically requires little management and can be provided at very low costs. Some open space managers provide nothing other than trails for physical activity in the form of walking, running, horse riding, mountain biking, snow shoeing, or cross-country skiing; or sedentary activity such as observing nature, bird watching, painting, photography, or picnicking. Limiting park or open space use to passive recreation over all or a portion of the park's area eliminates or reduces the burden of managing active recreation facilities and developed infrastructure. Many ski resorts combine active recreation facilities (ski lifts, gondolas, terrain parks, downhill runs, and lodges) with passive recreation facilities (cross-country ski trails).
Many smaller neighborhood parks are receiving increased attention and valuation as significant community assets and places of refuge in heavily populated urban areas. Neighborhood groups around the world are joining together to support local parks that have suffered from urban decay and government neglect.
A linear park is a park that has a much greater length than width. A typical example of a linear park is a section of a former railway that has been converted into a park called a rail trail or greenway (i.e. the tracks removed, vegetation allowed to grow back). Some examples of linear parks in North America include New York's High Line and the Village of Yorkville Park in Toronto, Canada, which won an award from the American Society of Landscape Architects. Parks are sometimes made out of oddly shaped areas of land, much like the vacant lots that often become city neighborhood parks. Linked parks may form a greenbelt.
There is a form of urban park in the UK (officially called a "recreation ground", but commonly called a "rec" by the public.) and some EU states that have mostly recreation grounds for kids to play with in a park, but have a may duck pond (occasionally), large grassy zones not meant exclusively for sports, many trees and or several bushy places. When it occurs as a separate facility on its own, without any park land, at a street corner or by a shop, the play facility is called a playground.
For Arthur D. Little's office park in Cambridge, Massachusetts, see Cambridge Discovery Park.Acorn Park is a 0.1247-acre (0.050-hectare) urban park in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, which features an acorn-shaped gazebo and an artificial grotto. The site is historically significant as it is thought to be the location of the "mica-flecked spring" that in 1840 inspired Francis Preston Blair to name his estate "Silver Spring".Acorn Park is located at the intersection of East-West Highway and Newell Street.Black Country
The Black Country is an area of the West Midlands, England, west of Birmingham and commonly refers to a region covering most of the four Metropolitan Boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton. During the Industrial Revolution, it became one of the most industrialised parts of Britain with coal mines, coking, iron foundries, glass factories, brickworks and steel mills producing a high level of air pollution.
The 14-mile (23 km) road between Wolverhampton and Birmingham was described as "one continuous town" in 1785. The first trace of "The Black Country" as an expression dates from the 1840s. The name is believed to come from the soot from the heavy industries that covered the area, although the 30-foot-thick (10 metre) coal seam close to the surface is another possible origin.
Although the heavy polluting industry that gave the region its name has long since disappeared, a sense of shared history and tradition in the area has kept the term in use. In addition, the regeneration of the area by local and national government has brought official recognition to the region and to some extent defined its boundary.Downsview Park
Downsview Park (French: Parc Downsview) is a large urban park located in the Downsview neighborhood in the North York district of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The park's name is officially bilingual due to it being federally owned and managed, and was first home to de Havilland Canada, an aircraft manufacturer, and later was a Canadian Forces base. The park still contains Downsview Airport. In 1999, the Government of Canada declared it as "Canada's first urban national park." However, unlike the Rouge National Urban Park in eastern Toronto, Downsview Park is managed by the federal Crown corporation Canada Lands Company rather than Parks Canada. As of 2017, little development has taken place, and the park remains mostly untouched.East Garfield Park, Chicago
East Garfield Park is a community area on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois, west of the Loop.
Taking its name from the large urban park, Garfield Park, the neighborhood is bordered by Franklin Boulevard on the north, Arthington and Taylor Streets on the south, Hamlin Avenue and Independence Boulevard to the west, and Rockwell Street to the east.Fish Creek Provincial Park
Fish Creek Park is a provincial park located in the southern part of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It is the second largest urban park in Canada after Rouge National Urban Park in the Greater Toronto Area, and followed by Pippy Park in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. It is also one of the largest urban parks in North America, stretching 19 km (12 mi) from east to west. At 13.48 km2 (5.20 sq mi), it is over three times the size of Vancouver's Stanley Park.
The growth of Calgary has left the park bordered on all sides by the city. It is also bordered on the west by the territory of the Tsuu T’ina Nation (Sarcee), a First Nation.
Fish Creek flows along the length of the park and joins the Bow River at the east side of the park. Fish Creek park used to span the width of the city but Calgary has grown beyond the edges of the park.Greynolds Park
Greynolds Park is a 265-acre (1.07 km2) urban park in metropolitan Miami, just north of North Miami Beach, Florida, United States.Hermann Park
Hermann Park is a 445-acre (180-hectare) urban park in Houston, Texas, situated at the southern end of the Museum District. The park is located immediately north of the Texas Medical Center and Brays Bayou, east of Rice University, and slightly west of the Third Ward. Hermann Park is home to numerous cultural institutions including the Houston Zoo, Miller Outdoor Theatre, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and the Hermann Park Golf Course, which became one of the first desegregated public golf courses in the United States in 1954. The park also features a large reflecting pool, numerous gardens, picnic areas, and McGovern Lake, an 8-acre (32,000 m2) recreational lake.One of Houston's oldest public parks, Hermann Park was first envisoined as part of a comprehensive urban planning effort by the city of Houston in the early 1910s. Following the recommendation of a 1913 report which identified the then-rural area between Main Street and Brays Bayou as ideal for a large urban park, real estate investor and entrepreneur George H. Hermann, who owned most of the area and served on the city's parks board, bequeathed his estate to Houston for use as a public green space in 1914. By 1916, famed landscape architect George Kessler had completed a master plan for the park which was gradually implemented throughout the following decades. Ultimately, Hermann Park and Rice University are two clear expressions of the City Beautiful movement in Houston.The opening of the Houston Zoo in the mid-1920s and the requisition of a large southern portion of the park for the establishment of the Texas Medical Center in the 1940s fundamentally altered the scope and configuration of the space, though significant elements of the Kessler plan—such as the north-south axis extending from Montrose Boulevard—remain and have been expanded upon. Hermann Park experienced a period of neglect in the latter half of the 20th century due to a lack of funding and maintenance, spurring the formation of the nonprofit Hermann Park Conservancy in 1992. The Conservancy has since leveraged over $120 million of public and private funds to renovate and remake broad areas of the park. Today, Hermann Park welcomes over six million visitors annually; the Houston Zoo was the second most visited paid-admission zoo in the United States in 2016 (behind San Diego Zoo), with over 2.5 million visitors.Hermann Park is served by the Hermann Park / Rice University station on the METRORail Red Line, which runs along Fannin Street at the western edge of the park.Kasukabe Station
Kasukabe Station (春日部駅, Kasukabe-eki) is a railway station in Kasukabe, Saitama, Japan, operated by the private railway operator Tobu Railway.New York City Department of Parks and Recreation
The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, also called the Parks Department or NYC Parks, is the department of the government of New York City responsible for maintaining the city's parks system, preserving and maintaining the ecological diversity of the city's natural areas, and furnishing recreational opportunities for city's residents and visitors.
NYC Parks maintains more than 1,700 parks, playgrounds and recreation facilities across the city's five boroughs. It is responsible for over 1,000 playgrounds, 800 playing fields, 550 tennis courts, 35 major recreation centers, 66 pools, 14 miles (23 km) of beaches, and 13 golf courses, as well as seven nature centers, six ice skating rinks, over 2,000 greenstreets, and four major stadiums. NYC Parks also cares for park flora and fauna, community gardens, 23 historic houses, over 1,200 statues and monuments, and more than 2.5 million trees. The total area of the properties maintained by the department is over 30,000 acres (120 km2). The largest single component of parkland maintained by the department is the 2,765-acre (1,119 ha) Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx. Other large parks administered by NYC Parks include Central Park in Manhattan, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in Queens, and the Staten Island Greenbelt in Staten Island.NYC Parks produces many special events, including concerts and movie premieres. In the summer, the busiest season, the agency organizes free carnivals and concerts, and sends mobile recreation vans to travel throughout the five boroughs providing free rental equipment for skating, baseball, and miniature golf.
The symbol of the department is a cross between the leaf of the London plane and a maple leaf. It is prominently featured on signs and buildings in public parks across the city. The London plane tree is on NYC Parks' list of restricted use species for street tree planting because it constitutes more than 10% of all street trees.Oldman River valley parks system
The Oldman River valley parks system is a continuous collection of eight urban parks in the Oldman River valley of Lethbridge, Alberta, 100 metres (330 ft) below the prairie level. The parks were created in the 1980s as part of the city's Urban Parks Project. Today they are a combined 16 square kilometres (6.2 sq mi) in size and comprise one of the largest urban park systems in North America, and the third largest in Canada.Parque Urbano Dora Colón Clavell
The Parque Urbano Dora Colón Clavell (English: Dora Colón Clavell Urban Park) is a passive park in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The park is named after the mother of ex-governor of Puerto Rico and Ponce native, Rafael Hernández Colón.Peacock Park
Peacock Park is a 9.4-acre (38,000 m2) public, urban park in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami, Florida on the shore of Biscayne Bay.Rouge, Toronto
Rouge is a neighbourhood in the northeastern area of Toronto, Ontario, within the former city of Scarborough. It is Toronto's largest neighbourhood by surface area, however unlike other neighbourhoods, most of its area remains undeveloped, as the neighbourhood is adjacent to Rouge National Urban Park.Rouge National Urban Park
Rouge National Urban Park is a national urban park in Ontario, Canada. Most of the park is located in Toronto's suburban district of Scarborough, while parts of the park are in the bordering cities of Markham and Pickering.
Since 2011, Parks Canada has been working to nationalize and nearly double the size of the original Rouge Park. Parks Canada is planning to add more trails, education and orientation centres and improved signage and interpretive panels and displays throughout the park. Parks Canada introduced new educational programs to the park, including Learn-to-Camp, Learn-to-Hike, fire side chats, and other complimentary programming. Once fully established, the park will span 79.1 square kilometres (30.5 sq mi). Parks Canada currently manages or has a direct interest in 62.9 square kilometres (24.3 sq mi) of this area.South Pointe Park
South Pointe Park, known locally as South Pointe, is a 17-acre (6.9 ha) county urban park in metropolitan Miami, in the South Beach neighborhood of Miami Beach, Florida.Tamiami Park
Tamiami Park is a public urban park in metropolitan Miami, just south of the Modesto Maidique campus of Florida International University.Tobu Urban Park Line
The Tobu Urban Park Line (東武アーバンパークライン, Tōbu Ābanpāku-rain), formerly known as the Tobu Noda Line (東武野田線, Tōbu Noda-sen), is a 62.7 km (39.0 mi) long railway line in Saitama and Chiba Prefectures operated by the Japanese private railway company Tobu Railway. It connects the satellite cities of Tokyo, such as Saitama, Kasukabe, Noda, Nagareyama, Matsudo, Kamagaya, Kashiwa, and Funabashi.Tropical Park
Tropical Park is a 275-acre (1.11 km2) urban park in metropolitan Miami, Florida. The park is located just southwest of the intersection of the Palmetto Expressway (SR 826) and Bird Road, just west of South Miami.Urban parks in Canada
Urban parks in Canada are areas for public recreation and enjoyment or natural preservation in cities in Canada. They are often owned and operated by municipal governments and so are usually called 'municipal parks', and sometimes 'regional parks' depending on the park's features and local government structure.
The amount of total park space per person and as percentage of total land in Canadian cities varies substantially. Many Canadian cities are located near large provincial and national parks, and other rural areas such as "cottage country" which also provide recreation areas for urban dwellers but may reduce the incentives for cities to preserve parkland within municipal boundaries. Some Canadian urban parks may be neatly tended public gardens reminiscent of the old world, but many of the largest are completely undeveloped open spaces.