Plumb Lines

May 7, 2009

The Uses of Giant Parks

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Schaengold @ 10:19 am

Acolytes of Jane Jacobs (and I am one) have a hard time defending giant urban parks. Many small parks have an obvious role in urban life, but can a thriving city do without a giant park? New York, Paris and Berlin have one (or two, in Paris’s case), but London and Mumbai don’t. They can’t really be for providing city residents with a dose of “nature,” as they have to be tamed and domesticated to serve a large population. As Jacobs points out, they deaden urban life all around their borders, because unlike small parks (and public squares), they don’t have effective “live edges,” to use her term of art. That is, they don’t have people constantly coming in and out of building on all sides.

It’s on those grounds, I think, exactly that big parks should be defended. They provide solitude. While I’m not sure Central Park really is a better use of valuable urban space than, say, a dozen more Greenwich Villages, there’s no doubt that something felicitous results from its failures.

David Schaengold



  1. Certainly got me thinking…

    Comment by P. Langdale Hough — May 7, 2009 @ 2:16 pm

  2. […] of human flourishing. In light of our discussion on urban decline (and more recently, David’s post on large urban parks), I have been attracted to the multidimensional impact of green, common spaces […]

    Pingback by Spatial Institutions: New England Greens, Part I « Plumb Lines — May 7, 2009 @ 2:45 pm

  3. […] to vehicular traffic and planted with some rather famous cherry trees. Again, as Schaengold has mentioned, the preservation of healthy edges to parks and greens in vital in enabling them to function in a […]

    Pingback by Spatial Institutions: New England Town Greens, Part II « Plumb Lines — May 16, 2009 @ 12:12 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: