Posted by: cousindampier | 17 January 2010

Open Space in Cities

Old news: for the first time in history, world population is more urban than rural, which makes this post on open spaces intriguing. One of the more interesting parts of the growing urbanization of mankind is the ownership of land. In some cases, influence and power are symbolized by living outside the city on a large piece of property, or having a yard within the city in a cramped space. Increasingly, prosperity is also revealed through ownership of a condo in the expensive downtown area (Berry Pepper’s character in 25th Hour, Frank Slaughtery, epitomizes this last type.)

So are we still a people craving the outdoor experience? Does our desire to live in cities change what we consider outdoor – from trees and rivers to a park with a running path surrounded by tall buildings?

Ken Burns recent documentary on the American National Park system asks this question in regards to National Parks. What will they become? With a population living in the cities, what are national parks now – no more and no less of a vacation spot than Disney World? Or, perhaps, there is still an innate desire to leave the city, the buildings, cars, busses, and people, and try to find somewhere more remote where the stars can be viewed every night.

I think the idea of urban open space is best summarized by Mr Hill: “On a recent visit to Boston, my first, I crossed the former elevated highway, now the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, a number of times, but I was never impressed by the treatment of the space. Seeing the wide swath of emptiness and the buildings on both sides, I yearned for more than just patches of green, benches, lights, and some sculptures.”

If only my country had a little money to spend on a new CCC, reinvigorating cities with open space.

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