City and urban landscape designs have tried to incorporate parks for a long time, with the first Public Park (publicly owned, paid for by public funds, and intended for public use) opening in Birkenhead, near Liverpool, in 1847. 10,000 people welcomed the opening of the land that day, and it has been studied and widely accepted ever since that those cities with access to parks have a much better chance of a population that has better levels of health for both individuals and neighbourhoods.
In urban areas where there the population have little access to green spaces and fresh air there are higher rates of childhood obesity and as low-income neighbourhoods have les access to green spaces, it is the children from the poorest families who often suffer health problems as a result. This can be down to poor air quality causing asthma and other air quality related illnesses and diseases.
When used correctly, and by large numbers of the local population, a public park can make a huge difference to the health of a city. Green space allows the chance for anyone to take in some fresh air, to have a space to exercise in peace, to relax and to get away from the hectic nature of the urban landscape for a few moments or hours at a time. Sometimes though, the design of a park just doesn’t lend itself to this concept, and it can be difficult for large numbers to gain access.
Urban design and development is a complex process, and is often very specific in how they function with the local population. A city population in the USA will have very different needs and desires in relation to a public park than a city population in Asia for instance. When public parks and landscape designs are planned they have to be completed with this in mind, otherwise they are likely to become white elephants, unused parks that have cost large amounts of public money and do not fulfil the intended purposes for the local community.
From that first opening of a public park in Birkenhead back in 1847, there was a template created for what a public park should be. This is only natural that the first design is copied, and Frederick Law Olmsted took the inspiration from a visit to Birkenhead in 1850 to create the landscape design for Central Park in New York City alongside architect Calvert Vaux. It was this design that became known as the standard of what a public park should be, and why not, it worked in both cities?
It isn’t as simple as to just follow the same template in every major city where a park is desired. There are concepts and aesthetics, cultural nuances, language and dialectal issues to consider even in different parts of the same country. There could be connotations taken from certain Park names by different groups of people using the park, as well as landscape designs that work well in certain climates and landscapes that are not suited to others. Urban design and the impact of public spaces should always be carefully considered in order to have maximum impact and to assist with the optimal health of the inhabitants of the city.