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Great City Parks

Landscape Design in City Parks and Urban Spaces

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As cities grow, it has become important to set aside green space where urban dwellers can enjoy trees, flowers, lakes and rivers, and wildlife. Landscape architects work with urban planners to design city parks that integrate nature into an overall urban plan. Some city parks have zoos and planetariums. Some city parks encompass many acres of forested land. Other city parks resemble town plazas with formal gardens and fountains. Listed here are landmark examples of city park design.

Central Park in New York City

Central Park in New York City
Photo: ClipArt.com
Central Park in New York City was officially born on July 21, 1853 when the State legislature authorized the City to buy more than 800 acres. The enormous park was designed by America's most famous landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted.

Parque Güell in Barcelona, Spain

Parque Güell - Public square wall/bench
Photo © Mary Ann Sullivan, Digital Imaging Project
Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí designed Parque Güell (pronounced par kay gwel) as part of a residential garden community. The entire park is made of stone, ceramic, and natural elements. Today Parque Güell is a public park and a World Heritage monument.

Hyde Park in London, United Kingdom

Photo of Serpentine Lake from a bridge.
Photo ©Herry Lawford, December 12, 2007, CC BY 2.0 on flickr.com.
Once a deer park for King Henry VIII's hunting adventures, central London's popular Hyde Park is one of eight Royal Parks. At 350 acres, it is less than half the size of New York's Central Park. The man-made Serpentine Lake provides a safer, urban replacement for Royal deer hunting, as shown in this video profile.

Rock Creek Park in Washington D.C.

Rock Creek Park in Washington D.C. extends 12 miles from the Potomac River to the border of Maryland. With hiking trails, a planetarium, an amphitheater, a dock, and riding stables, Rock Creek Park offers a retreat from city life.

Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California

Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California is a vast 1,013-acre urban park with extensive gardens, museums, and memorials. Once covered with sand dunes, Golden Gate Park was designed by William Hammond Hall and his successor, John McLaren.

Forest Park in Queens, New York

Designed by Frederick Olmsted in the 1890s, Forest Park has 538 acres of trees and fields. Forest Park is located in the New York City neighborhood of Queens.

Balboa Park in San Diego, California

Balboa Park in San Diego, California is sometimes called the "Smithsonian of the West" for the concentration of cultural institutions. Balboa Park encompasses 8 gardens, 15 museums, a theater, and the San Diego Zoo.

Manito Park in Spokane, Washington

Manito Park in Spokane, Washington has a perennial garden, a rose garden, a conservatory with tropical plants, and a 3-acre formal European garden designed and built in 1913.

City Park in New Orleans

Spanning about 1300 acres, City Park in New Orleans is one of the biggest urban parks in the USA. A highlight of City Park is the Bestoff Sculpture Garden.

Bryant Park in New York City

Bryant Park in New York City is modeled after small urban parks in France. Bryant Park is located in mid-town Manhattan.

Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky

Amenities like a 2.4 mile scenic loop, a fenced dog park, and a bird sanctuary, make Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky one of the most-visited parks in the USA.

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