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Lawn on Central Park (Image: Flickr)

Development of Park Culture (Continued): New York City

Many big cities in the developing world are now cottoning on to the importance of park culture for vibrant city life. In finding a template for outdoor leisure spaces, cities the world over look to New York City for inspiration.

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In comparison to the first article on the Developing Park Culture of Bangalore City, I will now look at the park culture in far more developed, cosmopolitan part of the world: New York City.

New York City is divided into five boroughs and each borough has more than a dozen parks. “New York City is home to many outstanding parks. Whether you want to experience small, manicured spots or larger parks, New York City has wonderful parks of all shapes and sizes.”

The city has 28,000 acres (113 km²) of parkland with around two thousand parks of varying size spread across the city. Many of the parks in New York City are built in a European style, with landscaped features surrounded by meadows, lakes and hills.

In many ways, the park culture of New York is in direct contradiction to the skyscraper architecture of the city, in that a lot of land is used without specific consideration of efficiency and economic returns–though it’s hard to estimate the value to employees and residents living in the city center of being able to enjoy such outdoor space.

Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx is the largest park with 2,765 acres. It is influenced by tidal waters and is surrounded by the Hutchinson River. “Visitors to the park enjoy miles of bridle paths and hiking trails, Orchard Beach, the Bartow-Pell Mansion, two golf courses, and a breathtaking 13-mile saltwater shoreline that hugs Long Island Sound.” It is a park for adults and children alike having many facilities for games, theater, walking, and leisure day to day activities.

Of course, the most renowned park in New York City is the Central Park in Manhattan.

“The huge park, 341 hectare large (843 acres), is located in the center of Manhattan. Its design has served as an example for city parks around the world.”

Many parks in the developing world have tried to imitate Central Park with its various facilities. Central Park and most other large parks of New York City have lakes, theater stages, ice rinks, fountains, tennis courts, baseball fields, many playgrounds and other such facilities, free for public use. Many bands and theater concerts are held in this popular space.

Here are some pictures of Central Park with its various facilities:

Baseball Field in Central Park (Image: The City Project / Flickr)

Fountain in Central Park (Image: Mark Heard / Flickr)

Walkway and Lake in Central Park (Image: Mark Heard / Flickr)

Lawn on Central Park (Image: ZeroOne / Flickr)

While Bangalore is utilizing small spaces for building residential parks, New York has used large land spaces in the center of the city for a whole community to enjoy and come together.

The developing world has a long way to go to match up to the architecture of the parks and facilities offered in New York City parks. Maintenance of parks is not governed by a separate entity as maintained in New York City. New York Parks are very well preserved, since they are controlled by The Department of Parks and Recreation; there is no such department in India for park maintenance, as it is mostly controlled by private enterprise.  However, the end goal of park culture is similar across the world: to allow a group of people to enjoy the landscape and utilize recreational facilities.