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The Henry Hudson Parkway, which runs along the east bank of the Hudson River from the north Bronx to the mid-50s in Manhattan, is a characteristic example of the treatment of greenspace under modernist urban planning. Designed by “master builder” Robert Moses and opened in 1937, the Henry Hudson was one of the earliest built examples of the “20th century landscape vision” to “bring the county to town” by erasing the lines delineating urban and natural spaces. To do this, Moses couched the expressway core of the Henry Hudson in a thick band of trees and greenspace that he deemed “Riverside Park.” Surprisingly, despite being designed by the patron saint of American modernist planning, Riverside Park is not marred by the amorphousness, inhospitability and lack of urbanity that would characterize later examples of the greenspace that planners strung along expressways. A testament to Moses’ skill as a landscape designer (if not an urban planner), the expressway component of the Henry Hudson is sufficiently well delineated from Riverside to ensure that it is a well used urban park.
Vancouver has recently made a commitment to being a greener, more nature centered, ecologically friendly city. They have outlined the
“Greenest City Action Plan”, which outlines 3 main goals of the plan, zero carbon, zero waste, and healthy ecosystems. One such example of a project geared towards this commitment is the Vancouver Land Bridge. This land bridge functions as a green space across the highway, full of native plants.
Hangzhou is one of the oldest cities in China, renowned today for its expansive green space program. The city went through a period of rapid urbanization in the 1990s complemented by various industry growth within the region, becoming the manufacturing hub for coastal China. During this period, the city suffered from great loss of agricultural and green space as well as rise in air pollution. Coupled with the region’s warm climate (second hottest in China) the living quality and health of the city was in danger. While this is a common trajectory for urbanizing regions, Hangzhou was different in their expansive effort to preserve and restore green spaces within their urban landscape. The city’s administration started to replace old factory and manufacturing sites with green space, lined canals and railways with parks, and pave tree-lined streets. Through this effort, the 40% of the entire city is now green space and there is high environmental consciousness among the city’s citizens. Today, Hangzhou’s Xixi Wetlands (3 times Central Park) and West Lake National Parks are popular attractions for tourists and locals. Hangzhou is referred to as China’s Garden City, and is a leading example for urban green space integration and retrofitting for the sake of public health and environmental justice.
Naples, a neighborhood located within the city of Long Beach, was constructed for the purpose of selling houses near the beach, and investors were convinced by the developers, when they told their vision of an Italian style resort village, with canals and gondola rides, which actually exist today. Before construction began on the marsh that Naples used to be, people would buy lots for 100 or 1,000 dollars, that would now sell for 500,000 to 8 million dollars. In the center of the island in the middle of Naples is La Bella Fontana Park. Meaning “The Beautiful Fountain Park” the name of this area refers to the three-tiered fountain that sits right in the middle of the park. For many of those who live on Naples, the park acts as a great meeting place, as it is a similar distance from all other locations in Naples. With Long Beach being one of America’s most walkable cities, Naples serves as an extension of this, with the center island being incredibly pleasant to get around by walking. Because of SoCal’s beautiful weather year-round, it is important for people to be able to get around Naples by walking, so that they can enjoy it to the fullest. With people being able to walk around the city more comfortably, it means that more people will be out of their houses at any given day of the year, helping the social life of Naples thrive year-round In addition, by making the central island such a focal point of the city socially, it helps to bring everyone together into a smaller area, instead of having people spread out across the entire neighborhood.
Since 1898, City of Boulder residents have intentionally preserved the amazing lands that characterize Boulder. There are now over 45,000 acres for children and families to enjoy. In fact, Boulder was named the “best place to raise an outdoor kid” by Backpacker Magazine in 2009. There are many ways to connect with and explore nature. To ensure the community connection, The Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan was created. The Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan seeks to protect the natural environment of the Boulder Valley while fostering a livable, vibrant and sustainable community. The plan provides a general statement of the community’s desires for future development and preservation of the Boulder Valley, and the city and county use it to guide long-range planning, the review of development proposals and other activities that shape the built and natural environments in the Boulder Valley. The plan was first approved in 1977. Since then, seven major updates have been completed: 1982, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2017. The updates allow the community to change the plan to reflect and address current conditions, changed circumstances and community values and needs. The aim of the first plan approved in 1977 was to concentrate urban development in the city and preserve the rural character of lands outside the city service area. One of the goals of Boulder is to guide decisions about growth, development, preservation, environmental protection, economic development, affordable housing, culture and arts, urban design, neighborhood character, and transportation. They are also focusing on informing decisions about how services such as police, ﬁre, water utilities and others are provided. The health of Boulder’s natural life has been a core value since its inception.
Lusaka, Zambia is an interesting example of the intersection between urban planning, public health, and colonial power building. What began as a small copper mining camp in Northern Rhodesia became a unique example of an intricately planned capital garden city in sub-Saharan Africa. In 1931, colonial authorities invited Stanley D. Adshead, Professor of Town and Country Planning at the University of London, to design a plan for the new capital of Northern Rhodesia. Adshead was particularly fascinated by Ebenezer Howard’s theory of the Garden City. This plan (rather abstract) for a city was meant to offer the advantages of both rural, urban and peri-urban life while ensuring the health and happiness of its inhabitants. Given the dearth of physically implemented garden cities in the world, Adshead saw Lusaka as the perfect opportunity to give it a go. While the plan was not implemented in its entirety, it was successful in segregating European and African communities, while offering very little in the form of economic activities. Its sole purposes were for housing European officials in comfortable and healthy living arrangements, while denying even the existence of an African population. This divide can be seen from above even today and is accentuated by the greater amount of green space in the formerly European area.
Sources: Njoh, Ambe J. (2007) Planning Power: Town planning and social control in colonial Africa. London, UK. University College London Press.
Seoul in the last few decades have placed great emphasis on public space planning and walkability of the city. This is embodied in park projects around the Han River that penetrates through the city, but also throughout different neighborhoods of the city. The examples presented are Seoullo (2017) and Cheonggyecheon (2005), fairly recent projects that have transformed old vehicular highways into public spaces. They both penetrate some of the most congested neighborhoods in Seoul and effectively makes the area vehicle- and walking-friendly. Seoullo is an elevated linear park, approximately 1km long, stretching along Seoul station––the largest train/subway station in the city. This area was once an elevated overpass that was built after the Korean war, but closed due to safety hazards. Cheonggyecheon was a natural stream that got covered for transportation infrastructure in the late-1960s. In 2003, the elevated highway was demolished and the stream restored with public recreation space complementing it. The park is approximately 11km long and is located in the heart of Seoul’s downtown district.