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public park

public park. Garden, open space, or park open to and maintained by or for the public. From the time of C18 Enlightenment the desirability of providing public parks for the well-being of town-dwellers was perceived. Promenades became available in several European cities, and the Royal Parks in London (e.g. St James's Park) were opened to the public by grace and favour. Kaiser Joseph II (reigned with his mother from 1765, and on his own 1780–90) designated (1766) the huge Prater Park outside the fortifications of Vienna as a place of pleasure for the people, and the fermier Watelet (no mean gardener himself) proposed (1770s) that, as in England, the Royal Parks in France should be made more accessible. Indeed, C18 saw numerous proposals for public parks, intended not only as places of recreation for the people, but as agents whereby the tone of society could be elevated: among the most eloquent of those pressing for the creation of public parks was Hirschfeld. However, Rumford and Sckell caused (from 1789) one of the first public parks to be laid out from scratch: this was the Englischer Garten (English Garden), Munich, created under the aegis of Karl Theodor (1724–99), Elector of the Palatinate from 1742, and Elector of Bavaria from 1777. From the beginning of C19 many redundant town-fortifications in Germany were converted into public promenades and parks (e.g. Frankfurt-am-Main (1807–11) ): in Prussia, Lenné proposed numerous public parks, and under King Friedrich Wilhelm III (reigned 1797–1840) created (from 1824) a park on the old fortifications of Magdeburg. Later, in 1840, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV (reigned 1840–61) decreed that the Tiergarten (Animal Park), Berlin, which had been beautified by Lenné, should be given to the city for use as a public park. Vienna acquired its Volksgarten (People's Garden) in 1820, on the site of the fortifications destroyed during the French Wars, and it quickly became a pleasant place of resort. Numerous public parks followed thereafter on both sides of the Atlantic. Loudon had consistently and often argued in their favour, not just for recreation, but for education (e.g. his Derby Arboretum (1839) ), and was to promote the idea of cemeteries as public parks, embellished with sculpture, funerary monuments, suitable buildings, and varied planting which would be an educational botanic garden and arboretum (of which Bigelow's Mount Auburn Cemetery, near Boston, MA (opened 1831), and Hosking's and Loddiges's Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington, London (1839–43) were outstanding exemplars). English parks created from public funds for use by the public included Victoria Park, in the East End of London, by Pennethorne (early 1840s), Paxton's parks at Birkenhead, Ches. (1843–7), and the grounds of the Crystal Palace, Sydenham (1852–8), and the Manchester parks (1840s) by Joshua Major (1787–1866). In the USA Downing, following Loudon, argued that public parks in growing urban centres would ease social problems and educate those using them, and Olmsted, who had visited (1850) the Birkenhead Park, was profoundly influenced by English precedents, notably when he and Vaux designed Central Park, NYC (from 1858), and that, in turn, informed numerous other projects. In the 1850s, under Haussmann, public parks were created in Paris, notably by Alphand (Bois de Boulogne) and in Vienna (1857) the huge Stadtpark (Town Park) was commenced (designed by Josef Selleny (1824–75) and Rudolf Siebeck (1812–after1878) ) when the old fortifications were demolished to create the famous Ringstrasse. The former Imperial garden of the Hofburg, laid out from 1810, was opened to the Viennese public as the Burggarten in 1919. At the beginning of C20 public parks were features of most cities in Europe (e.g. the Parque Maria-Luisa, Seville, Spain (1911), by C. -N. Forestier (1861–1930) ) and North America, and gradually areas for games and sports were either added or created as separate entities. After the 1939–45 war numerous plazas and vestpocket parks were created in towns and cities, as well as theme parks (e.g. the Gas-Works Park, Seattle, WA (begun in the 1970s to designs by Haag), the Landschaftspark, Duisburg (1990s, by Latz) ), and the somewhat unnerving Parc de la Villette, Paris (1980s and early 1990s by Tschumi). Public parks are now found in many guises, with both hard and soft landscapes, and have many connotations.

Bibliography

Chadwick (1966);
Conway (1991);
J. Curl (2000a);
B. Elliott (1986);
Garden History, xxiii/2 (Winter 1995), 201–21;
Hirschfeld (1779–85);
Loudon (1981);
Symes (1993);
Jane Turner (1996);
Alan Tate (2001)

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