December 8, 2010

Finding Park Space in the City

Note: the title of this post was taken from a chapter in Urban Green: Innovative Parks for Resurgent Cities by Peter Harnik.


Since we ran Aaron Odland's essay about the wildlife habitat potential of urban cemeteries and our own observations of the New Bowery or Second Cemetery of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, we have read several articles about the trend of urban cemeteries being used as parks.

Most recently, Peter Harnik and Aric Merolli contributed "Cemeteries Alive" to Landscape Architecture magazine (December 2010).  In the article, Harnik and Merolli noted that cemeteries were often cities "primary green spaces."  Consider Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA and Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY.  The authors provided case studies of 11 "selected urban cemeteries that function like parks" including Cedar Hill in Hartford, CT, Grand View Cemetery in Fort Collins, CO, Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, GA, and Evergreen Cemetery in Portland, ME.

In an excerpt from Urban Green: Innovative Parks for Resurgent Cities (Harnik, 2010) for City Parks Blog, Harnik wrote that the level of recreation permitted in a cemetery defines a cemetery as a park. What is considered recreation? Harnik's list included
walk,
walk a dog,
cycle,
picnic,
play music,
throw a ball,
sit under a tree.
On a related note, Yalin Fu and Ihsuan Lin have designed Mumbai's Moksha Towers, a vertical cemetery to be wrapped in a "multi-layered skin consisting of an outer skin, glazing, plants, woven material and a steel frame would line the tower, absorbing heat and CO2," according to a review on inhabitat.

Do you recreate in a local cemetery?

3 comments:

  1. When I lived in Richmond I could walk to Hollywood cemetery. It occupies several rolling hills overlooking the falls of the James River. It is also the home of many fabulous trees, ornate stonework, and is the final resting place of Monroe, Tyler and Jefferson Davis. One of my favorite parts is the stone block pyramid which is a memorial to the enlisted Confederate dead that are buried there; its rustic unadorned nature is a stark contrast to all the others.

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  2. I lived in Boston for a time and never visited the famous Mt. Auburn Cemetery. I should visit Greenwood Cemetery Brooklyn now that I live in NYC.

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  3. Ooh when I was in London in 2001, I ran across a cemetary where a local day care was having their play time. A journal excerpt:

    "A number of small children stood in a circle with their chaperones, holding part of a parachute. They counted and then at the same time they all lifted their section of the chute, propelling a yellow ball into the air. They weren't very accurate and often the ball would fly out and roll past the surrounding graves and a small child would drop his section of the chute and fetch it. They laughed and they giggled."

    It was nice to see so much life and happiness in a cemetary.

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