What is the world's best and most influential public park? St James's in London

The excellent PPS.org website has a list of the World’s Best and Worst Public Parks. There are 24 parks on the list and I have visited only 15 of them. One could have a long discussion about which is THE BEST so I have added the word INFLUENTIAL to the title of this post. With this qualification, there can only be one answer: St James’s Park in London. My argument is presented in the above video: St James’s Park influenced the planning of greenspace park open space systems for Adelaide, Paris, New York, Boston, London, Moscow and a host of other cities. With regard to ‘linkage’, London’s open space system was influenced by Le Notre’s north-west projection of the axis of the Tuileries Gardens. So my vote might have gone to the Tuileries – but it is the ‘Tuileries Garden‘. And, as the video makes abundantly clear, the pelicans agree with me. Who can argue with a pelican? After all, ‘What do a vulture, a pelican and a taxman have in common? Big bills!’
The PPS.org comment on St James’s Park is as follows: This wonderful park is a spiritual place, and far and away the best park in the heart of London… It sits between Buckingham Palace and Whitehall with great views to either side. It is spiritual place, and far and away the best park in the heart of London. Its only real rival is Queen Mary’s Gardens, which has many similar qualities, but is buried deep in Regent’s Park. Personally, I do not see Queen Mary’s Gardens as being either the same type of space or half as good as St James’s Park. But we could do with a reliable assessment system for the quality of Public Open Space POS.

5 thoughts on “What is the world's best and most influential public park? St James's in London

  1. jerry

    I agree with you about St James Park is excellent. Every time I visit this park, an idea always comes to me: if a landscape architect has never visited this park, they should not graduate from university to become a landscape architect. That is why I will suggest the Chinese universities organize students to come here instead of going to visit Shanghai as their second year study tour. Another park which I like is Greenwich Park. Greenwich park can make people feel happy, which may be the reason that it used to be called “Park for pleasure’. It could be almost all the reason I came to study in Greenwich, because I can view the urban landscape there everyday. Also, I will suggest to get students to learn and undertake their drawing practice in Greenwich, instead of going to Huangshan, AnHui. They need to stay in Greenwich for one week, feed the squirrels and get to know all the plants’ names in this park. Greenwich Park must be better than their teachers in the university.

    In conclusion, I can answer your question about which park is better than St James Park- IT IS GREENWICHPARK!

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      I have come to like Greenwich Park more and more since I have been living there but I do not think it is as good or as popular or as influential as St James’s Park. Re influence, one could argue that since Henry VIII was born in Greenwich, this is what influenced him to create the park system in Central London.

      It would be interesting to collect data and compare the use intensity of the two parks – but would one include the water area in the calculations for St James’s Park?


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