Friday, July 11, 2014

A History of Urban Parks and Recreation from the Past to the Future

 The Past

Chelsea Before the arrival of western civilization
-Lush Park
 residents could sit/play anywhere they wanted in the area.

-Chelsea After western civilization

-private lots
residents could no longer sit or play anyplace
 the streets of Chelsea were still our parks.

The Sidewalks were our Parks
-. So they sent me[Jane Jacobs] to Philadelphia, 
-First he[Mr Bacon] took me to a street where loads of people were hanging around on the street, on the stoops, having a good time of it, and he said, well, this is the next street we’re going to get rid of. That was the “before” street.
 Then he showed me the “after” street, all fixed up, and there was just one person on it, a bored little boy kicking a tire in the gutter. 
 -It was so grim that I would have been kicking a tire, too.. link


The Streets were our playgrounds-C Edward Coop , Surgeon General US


street games web 300x210 street games web

 The Present

Although it may seem obvious, Parks developed only when open space diminished 
  -NYC Dept of Parks

-until some time in the 20th century when the automobile lobby won their war to ban mixed use of our streets
-With the exception of a few programs such DOT Play Streets Program and its  sixty six Plazas , our streets are still off limit to humans except for crossing

Future 2020

 -Creation of a   decentralized park system to supplement our existing centralized parks. 

-Make NYC Age-Friendly

--Goal a seat near every street in the near future

-With more seating, every street can become a Active Recreation walking trail

How to get there:

Sidewalk Parks

The DOT  Citybench program will add 1500 Sidewalk Parks to NYC by 2015. 
 Chelsea currently has over 30 sidewalk parks, through Citybench and the earlier Chelseabench iniativies of the Chelsea Improvement Company and 34th Street Partnership. 

Sidewalk garden Seating

-The Downtown Alliance has added sidewalk garden seating to its sidewalks. 
Just as NYC DOT took the Chelseabench and transformed it into the Citybench,  the Parks Dept should look to add  sidewalk garden seating to its tree guards program and to get NYC to fund   deploying these throughout the city.


There is talk in Los Angeles of  installing  thousands  of parklets   NYC lags behind in installation of parklets

Spring Street Rendering

Unlike LA DOT NYC DOT has not taken a great deal of  leadership in parklets for NYC. DOT is not set up to take care of plazas or parklets. DOT Plazas are maintained by groups like BIDS.  Perhaps to get a citywide Parklets program moving  DOT shoupld partner with the  Parks Dept .

 Future 2050

With the coming of self driving vehicles, most of our streets will once again be safe and become parks and playgrounds.
A street converted to a playground in Amsterdam link Self driving cars will allow new innovated street designs where cars and people can share our streets again.