The Washington Post

It takes more than open space to make a great urban park

The Silver Spring Transit Center isn’t finished yet, but there’s already support for turning vacant land next to it into a big park. However, this really isn’t a good place for a park. There are also lots of small, underused parks nearby, and with some alterations, they could help quench the demand for open space.

County Council member Hans Riemer recently proposed building a two-acre park next to the Transit Center instead of an originally planned hotel. On his blog, he talks about the many “green urban parks” in downtown D.C., like Dupont Circle. “Silver Spring deserves one too,” he writes.

What makes a great urban park like Dupont Circle, Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, or Union Square in New York? They all have grassy areas and trees, and are nice places to enjoy the outdoors. But they don’t exist in isolation. What happens on the edges of great urban parks is what makes them successful.

Parks such as Dupont and Rittenhouse sit in the middle of very dense, busy neighborhoods with thousands of people living and working nearby. The surrounding buildings also create a frame around the space, making it an outdoor room. Most of the buildings that face Dupont Circle have a store or restaurant on the ground floor. On Rittenhouse Square, there are apartment building entrances and restaurants with dining terraces opening to the square.

[Continue reading Dan Reed’s post here at Just Up the Pike.]

Dan Reed blogs at Just Up the Pike. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

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