Park life

Central Park, Manhattan, New York Central Park, Manhattan, New York IM_Photo
05 Jan
2016
New York’s latest environmental initiative aims to break open the city’s green spaces

For the city that never sleeps, there’s a new scheme underway on how to spend those waking hours enjoying the urban environment. As part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s OneNYC plan, a programme called Parks Without Borders has been granted $50million to systematically reconstruct many of the city’s parks and green spaces, to increase accessibility and mobility for residents and other city dwellers.

‘This initiative flows from the idea that the public realm should be a unified space, promoting freedom of movement and making all parts of it as seamless as possible,’ says Mitchell Silver, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. ‘That public realm, including streets, sidewalks, parks and other public spaces, takes up about 40 per cent of New York City, and is a common resource that New Yorkers share every day.’

Our parks were designed over centuries, and reflect different notions about what public space means

Parks Without Borders will focus primarily on the transformation of park entrances – widening them in order to become ‘more welcoming, convenient and easy to find’ – and the parks’ edges, lowering or removing inhibiting fences and allowing increased freedom of sight and movement across park borders. The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation is now engaging with residents to choose eight specific parks to be first for this redesign.

Silver echoes 19th century architect Frederick Law Olmsted’s view that the area around parks should be seen as ‘outer park’. ‘Our parks were designed over centuries, and reflect different notions about what public space means,’ says Silver. ‘Thus, some of them were designed not to integrate the park into the surrounding community but to seal them off. Parks Without Borders makes these spaces more inviting by providing places to sit, bicycle racks, public art – whatever it takes to erase the border and replace it with an amenity that fosters engagement with the space. This is especially important in dense, low-income areas where people have little private space in which to meet and interact with neighbours and friends.’

Silver maintains that an open design approach to public spaces has innumerable benefits, from giving people a greater sense of belonging and ownership with their parks to improving public safety by allowing better natural surveillance of public spaces.

This article was published in the January 2016 edition of Geographical magazine.

Share this story...

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

Related items

Leave a comment

ONLY registered members can leave comments and each comment is held pending authorisation before publishing. Please login or register to voice your opinion.

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe Today

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth UniversityUniversity of GreenwichThe University of Winchester

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • REDD+ or Dead?
    The UN-backed REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme, under which developing nations would be paid not to cut dow...
    The true cost of meat
    As one of the world’s biggest methane emitters, the meat industry has a lot more to concern itself with than merely dietary issues ...
    Long live the King
    It is barely half a century since the Born Free story caused the world to re-evaluate humanity’s relationship with lions. A few brief decades later,...
    London: a walk in the park
    In the 2016 London Mayoral election, the city’s natural environment was high on the agenda. Geographical asks: does the capital have a green future,...
    The Money Trail
    Remittance payments are a fundamental, yet often overlooked, part of the global economy. But the impact on nations receiving the money isn’t just a ...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - follow Geographical

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in PLACES...

Mountains

Norway is to undercut a mountainous peninsula to create the…

Mapping

Benjmain Hennig explores global mortality with maps

Water

Last winter’s cold conditions contributed a further influx of road…

Water

As one of America’s biggest cities, supplying clean drinking water…

Cities

Cape Town’s Foreshore Freeway Bridge has been left unfinished for…

Mapping

An interactive map highlights the shocking number of ongoing conflicts…

Mapping

Repurposed NASA maps show the racial diversity (and segregation) of…

Mapping

Benjamin Hennig maps Europe's public train networks

Mapping

A new map of global landslide susceptibility reveals vast geographical…

Deserts

For decades, scientists have been divided over how these eerily…

Forests

The first count of global tree species reveals how many…

Cities

The new ‘world’s longest flight’ now spans a distance of more…

Mountains

For the Swiss, the iconic yellow postbuses are much more…

Water

After years of inaction, could the clean-up of the Venice lagoon…

Water

Following the recent success of New Zealand’s Whanganui river, India’s…

Forests

The UN-backed REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation)…

Mapping

Where are Europe's earthquakes located? Benjamin Hennig maps the answer

Forests

Was last year’s El Niño a practice run for future…

Forests

Geographical’s regular look at the world of climate change. This…

Mapping

Drought in the region is turning to full famine –…