Positivity in Parks

After last weeks class of placemaking, I began to think about how children come into play in the act of placemaking and in cities in general. Being an elementary education major, I have been curious as to how I can incorporate my knowledge of education or of children in general in this placemaking class. This thought then prompted me to read more of Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities. For class we read a section of the reading regarding safety and sidewalks, where Jacobs explains the three main qualities of the streets of successful city neighborhoods. A successful neighborhood must have a clear determination between public and private space, people watching the street, and many users on the sidewalk continuously. 

I then read more of the safety portion of Jacobs’ writing, which explored assimilating children into a city neighborhood. One section of this reading explains the roles of parks in a neighborhood. Jacobs believes that parks are areas that need life to be brought upon them, as without people in a park, it would just be an empty space of lifeless objects and structures. Jacobs attributes four different qualities that make a successful park; intricacy, centering, access to sunlight, and enclosure. 

Intricacy: creating diversity in uses and repeat users

Centering: a main crossroads, pausing point, or climax

Access to sunlight (this one is self explanatory)

Enclosure: buildings present and diversity in these buildings  

These attributes got me thinking about the park that our class visited Borgo Sant’Angelo. This park has amazing potential, incredible views and greenery, and vast space, but it is lacking liveliness. What aspects was this park missing? What could be done to check off all of these boxes to create a successful park? 

The park seemed to lack diversity in uses, which touches upon the intricacy aspect. There was greenery, a stage type setup, and a slightly run-down play area for children. Something that could improve diversity in uses is creating park benches or picnic tables in the green areas overlooking the neighborhood, as it may break up the walking path and give people a chance to relax, take the view in, and have a conversation. This can bring more liveliness to the park, which, as Jacobs says, will in turn bring even more liveliness to the park. 

Using these four attributes to a successful park, there are many other options for improvement of the area, and this thought is only the beginning. In turn I want to leave this blog with a question: which attribute seems to be most important to you, and how could you improve a park using this attribute? 

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