The Best Backyard in Baltimore
Baltimore's beating heart is renewed after decades of neglect.
By Peter Harnik
Can a park save a neighborhood? For conservationists and many
landscape architects the answer is an obvious yes. "Great parks
make great cities" and "all great cities have great parks" are two
of the guiding mantras of the burgeoning city park movement. For
people who treasure Henry Thoreau and John Muir, it seems indisputable
that trees, flowers, and fields bring softness, greenery, and value
to an urban communityjust look at the genteel neighborhoods
surrounding such greenswards as New York's Gramercy Park, Atlanta's
Ainsley Park, New Orleans's Audubon Park, and Denver's Washington
Not all urban experts agree. To Jane Jacobs, influential author
of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, parks too
often break up a city's intricate (and economically necessary) fabric
of walkable destinations, become uncontrollable no-man's-lands,
or create "border vacuums" that lead to urban blight. This is the
charge Jacobs leveled in her 1969 book:
Conventionally, neighborhood parks or parklike open spaces
are considered boons conferred on the deprived populations of cities.
Let us turn this thought around, and consider city parks deprived
places that need the boon of life and appreciation conferred on
them. This is more nearly in accord with reality, for people do
confer use on parks and make them successesor else withhold
use and doom parks to rejection and failure.
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