A park is an area of natural, semi-natural or planted space set aside
for human enjoyment and recreation or for the protection of wildlife
or natural habitats. It may consist of grassy areas, rocks, soil and
trees, but may also contain buildings and other artifacts such as
monuments, fountains or playground structures. In North America, many
parks have fields for playing sports such as association football,
baseball and football, and paved areas for games such as basketball.
Many parks have trails for walking, biking and other activities. Some
parks are built adjacent to bodies of water or watercourses and may
comprise a beach or boat dock area. Often, the smallest parks are in
urban areas, where a park may take up only a city block or less and is
ideally within a
10-Minute Walk of its residents. Urban parks often
have benches for sitting and may contain picnic tables and barbecue
grills. Parks have differing rules regarding whether dogs can be
brought into the park: some parks prohibit dogs; some parks allow them
with restrictions (e.g., use of a leash); and some parks, which may be
called "dog parks", permit dogs to run off-leash.
The largest parks can be vast natural areas of hundreds of thousands
of square kilometers (thousands of square miles), with abundant
wildlife and natural features such as mountains and rivers. There are
also amusement parks which have live shows, fairground rides,
refreshments, and games of chance/skill. Amusement parks are the
largest types of park in the world. In many large parks, camping in
tents is allowed with a permit. Many natural parks are protected by
law, and users may have to follow restrictions (e.g., rules against
open fires or bringing in glass bottles). Large national and
sub-national parks are typically overseen by a park ranger or a park
warden. Large parks may have areas for canoeing and hiking in the
warmer months and, in some northern hemisphere countries,
cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in colder months.
2.1 Role in city revitalization
2.2 Design for safety
2.3 Women as a measure of safety
3 Active and passive recreation areas
4 Parks owned or operated by government
4.1 National parks
4.2 Sub-national parks
4.3 Urban parks
4.4 Linear parks
4.5 Country parks
5 Private parks
6 See also
8 External links
Depiction of a medieval hunting park from a 15th-century manuscript
The first parks were English deer parks, land set
aside for hunting by royalty and the aristocracy in medieval times.
They had walls or thick hedges around them to keep game animals (e.g.,
stags) in and people out. It was strictly forbidden for commoners to
hunt animals in these deer parks.
These game preserves evolved into landscaped parks set around mansions
and country houses from the sixteenth century onwards. These may have
served as hunting grounds but they also proclaimed the owner's wealth
and status. An aesthetic of landscape design began in these stately
home parks where the natural landscape was enhanced by landscape
architects such as Capability Brown. As cities became crowded, the
private hunting grounds became places for the public.
Industrial revolution parks took on a new meaning as areas
set aside to preserve a sense of nature in the cities and towns.
Sporting activity came to be a major use for these urban parks. Areas
of outstanding natural beauty were also set aside as national parks to
prevent their being spoiled by uncontrolled development.
In some parks or time periods with high pollen counts, parks tend to
Park design is influenced by the intended purpose and audience, as
well as by the available land features. A park intended to provide
recreation for children may include a playground. A park primarily
intended for adults may feature walking paths and decorative
landscaping. Specific features, such as riding trails, may be included
to support specific activities.
The design of a park may determine who is willing to use it. Walkers
may feel unsafe on a mixed-use path that is dominated by fast-moving
cyclists or horses. Different landscaping and infrastructure may even
affect children's rates of use of parks according to sex. Redesigns of
two parks in Vienna suggested that the creation of multiple
semi-enclosed play areas in a park could encourage equal use by boys
Parks are part of the urban infrastructure: for physical activity, for
families and communities to gather and socialize, or for a simple
respite. Research reveals that people who exercise outdoors in
green-space derive greater mental health benefits. Providing
activities for all ages, abilities and income levels is important for
the physical and mental well-being of the public.
Parks can also benefit pollinators, and some parks (such as Saltdean
Oval) have been redesigned to accommodate them better. Some
organisations, such as
Xerces Society are also promoting this idea.
Role in city revitalization
City parks play a role in improving cities and improving the futures
for residents and visitors. For example, Millennium
Park in Chicago,
Illinois or the Mill River
Park and Green way in Stamford, CT.
One group that is a strong proponent of parks for cities is The
American Society of
Landscape Architects . They argue that parks are
important to the fabric of the community on an individual scale and
broader scales such as entire neighborhoods, city districts or city
Design for safety
A well-lit path in Dehli's Garden of Five Senses
Parks need to feel safe for people to use them. Research shows that
perception of safety can be more significant in influencing human
behavior than actual crime statistics. If citizens
perceive a park as unsafe, they might not make use of it at all.
A study done in four cities; Albuquerque, NM, Chapel Hill/Durham, NC,
Columbus, OH, and Philadelphia, PA, with 3815 survey participants who
lived within a half mile of a park indicated that in addition to
safety that park facilities also played a significant role in park
utilization and that increasing facilities instead of creating an
image of a safe park would increase utilization of the park.
There are a number of features that contribute to whether or not a
park feels safe. Elements in the physical design of a park, such as an
open and welcoming entry, good visibility (sight lines), and
appropriate lighting and signage can all make a difference. Regular
park maintenance, as well as programming and community involvement can
also contribute to a feeling of safety.
While Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) has been
widely used in facility design, use of CPTED in parks has not been.
Iqbal and Ceccato performed a study in Stockholm, Sweden to determine
if it would be useful to apply to parks. Their study indicated
that while CPTED could be useful, due to the nature of a park,
increasing the look of safety can also have unintended consequences on
the aesthetics of the park. Creating secure areas with bars and locks
and lower the beauty of the park, as well as the nature of who is in
charge of observing the public space and the feeling of being
Women as a measure of safety
The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the
United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject.
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In the United States, the standard for safety in parks is increasingly
measured by whether women feel safe in that particular location.
This was originally identified by the urban sociologist William H.
Whyte in his 1988 studies in New York. Research reveals that women
have a different sense of safety compared to men, whether they are
walking in their neighborhood or in a park. Dan Biederman,
President of the Bryant
Park Corp. stated "Women pick up on visual
cues of disorder better than men do.... And if women don't see other
women, they tend to leave." Whether or not a woman feels safe can
determine how much physical activity she has and if it will reach the
recommended level for good health and disease prevention. Park
designers and planners can take several steps to increase safety from
assault, including providing sufficient lighting, having patrols by
police officers or other safety officials, and providing emergency
buttons for summoning assistance.
Active and passive recreation areas
Burnside Skatepark in
Portland, Oregon is one of the world's most
Parks can be divided into active and passive recreation areas. Active
recreation is that which has an urban character and requires intensive
development. It often involves cooperative or team activity, including
playgrounds, ball fields, swimming pools, gymnasiums, and skateparks.
Active recreation such as team sports, due to the need to provide
substantial space to congregate, typically involves intensive
management, maintenance, and high costs. Passive recreation, also
called "low intensity recreation" is that which emphasizes the
open-space aspect of a park and allows for the preservation of natural
habitat. It usually involves a low level of development, such as
rustic picnic areas, benches and trails.
Many smaller neighborhood parks are receiving increased attention and
valuation as significant community assets and places of refuge in
heavily populated urban areas. Neighborhood groups around the world
are joining together to support local parks that have suffered from
urban decay and government neglect.
Passive recreation typically requires little management and can be
provided at very low costs. Some open space managers provide nothing
other than trails for physical activity in the form of walking,
running, horse riding, mountain biking, snow shoeing, or cross-country
skiing; or sedentary activity such as observing nature, bird watching,
painting, photography, or picnicking. Limiting park or open space use
to passive recreation over all or a portion of the park's area
eliminates or reduces the burden of managing active recreation
facilities and developed infrastructure. Many ski resorts combine
active recreation facilities (ski lifts, gondolas, terrain parks,
downhill runs, and lodges) with passive recreation facilities
(cross-country ski trails).
Parks owned or operated by government
Northeast Greenland National Park, the world's largest national park
Main article: National park
A national park is a reserve of land, usually, but not always declared
and owned by a national government, protected from most human
development and pollution. Although this may be so, it is not likely
that the government of a specific area owns it, rather the community
itself. National parks are a protected area of International Union for
Conservation of Nature
Category II. This implies that they are
wilderness areas, but unlike pure nature reserves, they are
established with the expectation of a certain degree of human
visitation and supporting infrastructure.
While this type of national park had been proposed previously, the
United States established the first "public park or pleasuring-ground
for the benefit and enjoyment of the people", Yellowstone National
Park, in 1872, although Yellowstone was not gazetted as a national
park. The first officially designated national park was Mackinac
Island, gazetted in 1875. Australia's Royal National Park, established
in 1879, was the world's second officially established national
The largest national park in the world is the Northeast Greenland
National Park, which was established in 1974 and currently protects
972,001 km2 (375,000 sq mi)
State park and Provincial park
In some Federal systems, many parks are managed by the sub-national
levels of government. In Brazil, the United States, and some states in
Mexico, as well as in the Australian state of Victoria, these are
known as state parks, whereas in Argentina,
Canada and South Korea,
they are known as provincial or territorial parks. In the United
States, it is also common for individual counties to run parks, these
are known as county parks.
Yoyogi Park is a large urban park in Tokyo.
Main article: Urban park
A park is an area of open space provided for recreational use, usually
owned and maintained by a local government. Parks commonly resemble
savannas or open woodlands, the types of landscape that human beings
find most relaxing.
Grass is typically kept short to discourage insect
pests and to allow for the enjoyment of picnics and sporting
activities. Trees are chosen for their beauty and to provide shade.
Some early parks include the la Alameda de Hércules, in Seville, a
promenaded public mall, urban garden and park built in 1574, within
the historic center of Seville; the City Park, in Budapest, Hungary,
which was property of the Batthyány family and was later made public.
An early purpose built public park was
Derby Arboretum which was
opened in 1840 by Joseph Strutt for the mill workers and people of the
city. This was closely followed by Princes
Park in the Liverpool
suburb of Toxteth, laid out to the designs of
Joseph Paxton from 1842
and opened in 1843. The land on which the Princes park was built was
purchased by Richard Vaughan Yates, an iron merchant and
philanthropist, in 1841 for £50,000. The creation of Princes Park
showed great foresight and introduced a number of highly influential
ideas. First and foremost was the provision of open space for the
benefit of townspeople and local residents within an area that was
being rapidly built up. Secondly it took the concept of the designed
landscape as a setting for the suburban domicile, an idea pioneered by
John Nash at Regent's Park, and re-fashioned it for the provincial
town in a most original way. Nash's remodeling of St James's
1827 and the sequence of processional routes he created to link The
Regent's Park completely transformed the appearance of
London's West End. With the establishment of Princes
Park in 1842,
Joseph Paxton did something similar for the benefit of a provincial
town, albeit one of international stature by virtue of its flourishing
Liverpool had a burgeoning presence on the
scene of global maritime trade before 1800 and during the Victorian
era its wealth rivalled that of London itself.
The form and layout of Paxton's ornamental grounds, structured about
an informal lake within the confines of a serpentine carriageway, put
in place the essential elements of his much imitated design for
Birkenhead Park. The latter was commenced in 1843 with the help of
public finance and deployed the ideas he pioneered at Princes
a more expansive scale.
Frederick Law Olmsted
Frederick Law Olmsted visited Birkenhead Park
in 1850 and praised its qualities. Indeed, Paxton is widely credited
as having been one of the principal influences on Olmsted and
Calvert's design for New York's
Central Park of 1857.
Central Park in
New York City
New York City is the most-visited urban park in the
Another early public park is the Peel Park, Salford, England opened on
August 22, 1846. Another possible claimant for status as
the world's first public park is Boston Common (Boston, Massachusetts,
USA), set aside in 1634, whose first recreational promenade, Tremont
Mall, dates from 1728. True park status for the entire common seems to
have emerged no later than 1830, when the grazing of cows was ended
and renaming the Common as Washington
Park was proposed (renaming the
bordering Sentry Street to
Park Street in 1808 already acknowledged
A linear park is a park that has a much greater length than width. A
typical example of a linear park is a section of a former railway that
has been converted into a park called a rail trail or greenway (i.e.
the tracks removed, vegetation allowed to grow back). Parks are
sometimes made out of oddly shaped areas of land, much like the vacant
lots that often become city neighborhood parks. Linked parks may form
Main article: Country park
In some countries, especially the United Kingdom, country parks are
areas designated for recreation, and managed by local authorities.
They are often located near urban populations, but they provide
recreational facilities typical of the countryside rather than the
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Private parks are owned by individuals or businesses and are used at
the discretion of the owner. There are a few types of private parks,
and some which once were privately maintained and used have now been
made open to the public.
Hunting parks were originally areas maintained as open space where
residences, industry and farming were not allowed, often originally so
that nobility might have a place to hunt – see medieval deer
park. These were known for instance, as deer parks (deer being
originally a term meaning any wild animal). Many country houses in
Great Britain and Ireland still have parks of this sort, which since
the 18th century have often been landscaped for aesthetic effect. They
are usually a mixture of open grassland with scattered trees and
sections of woodland, and are often enclosed by a high wall. The area
immediately around the house is the garden. In some cases this will
also feature sweeping lawns and scattered trees; the basic difference
between a country house's park and its garden is that the park is
grazed by animals, but they are excluded from the garden.
List of national parks
Public open space
Urban open space
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^ Salford City Council: Parks in Broughton and Blackfriars Retrieved
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^ Papillon Graphics' Virtual Encyclopaedia of Greater Manchester: The
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^ University of Salford: Peel
Park Retrieved on September 7, 2008
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Parks.
Olmsted, Frederick Law (1879). "Park". The American
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