The Landscape Guide

City Parks

In considering the antiquity of city parks, one has to be careful about definitions. A city park can be

  • any green space within the city boundary
  • an urban green space used as an imparkment within which to keep animals (usually for hunting)
  • a private vegetated space within a settlment laid out for recreation
  • a public greenspace in a town owned by the crown and designed as a garden for public use
  • a public space in a town owned by the public and used for recreation and amenity horticulture

It is only in the last of these senses, which has become popular, that it is true to say that 'the city park was a nineteenth century invention'. The fame and influence of Central Park New York became so great that it virtually gave a new meaning to the word 'park'. It is evidently a City Park - not a suburban 'public park'.

Central Park. New York. It was beyond the city limits when planned but, as Olmsted anticipated a wall of buildings has developed as a great scenic backdrop.