October 2, 2012
Cities across the United States are not just concrete jungles, but filled with green spaces to create a beautiful space for residents, and to also benefit the environment. We’ve heard of famous parks like New York’s Central Park and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, but are these even “green” spaces? In addition to having urban parks and gardens, it’s important that they are sustainable. Here are 5 eco-friendly city parks that encompass both qualities.
1. Boston: The Public Garden
Did you know Boston’s Public Garden is the first public botanical garden in the United States? The garden sits on 24 acres in the heart of the city, where anyone can stroll through to observe the beautiful flowers, gardens and trees. The park uses the utmost of sustainable care such as ensuring the soil contains only necessary ingredients, along with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department using an irrigation system that saves water by not overwatering.
Another fun, green activity this green space provides is the famous Swan Boats! Using only pedal-power – no carbon footprint – the boats offer a slow-paced ride for residents and tourists. It’s peaceful and relaxing as you glide through the Garden and become one with nature.
Even though some care, like gas lawn mowers, takes away from the environment, the Public Garden provides a unique, green space in a concrete jungle.
2. San Francisco: Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park, located in San Francisco, is the third most visited park in the nation and is one of the world’s largest “man-made havens.” Covering 1,000 acres (ranging more than 50 city blocks) the park isn’t just about concerts, food and playing football; it’s also a great place to recognize the environment.
The park promotes walking, biking and also has its own shuttle to limit the use of cars. It’s even a great place to peruse the wildlife. Of course through the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the organization strives to protect natural heritage, like the park’s many gardens. With at least five different gardens, one can become acquainted with roses, tulips and botanical beauties. Golden Gate Park offers more than 7,500 varieties of flora!
Yes, the park also provides eco-activities like its California Academy of Sciences, the Japanese Tea Gardens and the oldest glass and wood Victorian greenhouse. Next time you’re in the area, be sure to make a stop.
3. Atlanta: Piedmont Park Conservancy
Atlanta’s historic Piedmont Park maintains its beauty thanks to the Piedmont Park Conservancy. It is now the most visited green space in Atlanta. The park is constantly preserved and enhanced to uphold character and keep the natural habitat in order.
With restorations and constant care, Piedmont now contains LEED certified restrooms, added green space, more than 600 trees, a tree identification program to better manage care for trees and native plants beneficial to the land and its wildlife.
If that doesn’t say much, then this should. The park received an Award for Excellence from the Urban Land Institute Awards and LEED Gold Certification.
4. New York City: Union Square Park
Central Park might be your first park choice while visiting New York City, but Union Square Park is worth your time too. What’s the best part? It’s home to the City’s first, oldest and largest Greenmarket! Open year-round, the park is an avid agricultural supporter and showcases dozens of local farmers.
In addition to selling local goods, the Greenmarket promotes recycling. Every Saturday and Monday anyone who is getting rid of clothing can donate their items to the textile recycling drive. Shoes, belts, handbags, bedding, etc. is all welcome. Anything to help divert waste from landfills! The Greenmarket keeps getting better, as it even has a compost drop-off program.
Union Square Park also has other events, like holiday markets, walking tours and exercise classes. It’s definitely a place to add to your New York City map!
5. Brooklyn: Prospect Park
Another eco-friendly park in New York is Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. This 585-acre urban green space sits in downtown Brooklyn, but surely doesn’t go unnoticed.
Landscaped by architects Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux (they also designed Central Park and Boston’s Emerald Necklace), the borough’s park contains the 90-acre Long Meadow, the 60-acre Lake and Brooklyn’s only forest and freshwater lake!
Even though most of it is man-made, there are so many opportunities to enjoy nature such as the 30,000 trees and the 200 species of birds, which helped in creating the nation’s first urban Audubon Center (2002). This borough sure has a lot to offer!
Cities wouldn’t be the same without parks and green spaces. Let us know which one is your favorite!