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Parks: Leisure Spaces or Businesses?

Sara Lazarovska's picture

Central Park: "Due to possibility of strong winds, Central Park will be closed from noon Wednesday, November 7 until noon Thursday, November 8."

And there I was, convinced all this time that parks were free and open (mostly) public spaces that anyone could enjoy at any time. Was I fooled, huh? Apparently, they have working hours (or is it operating hours? available hours?), just like shops and offices. I mean, I am aware that a lot of parks in cities are privately owned, but they're free for public use (like the Zuccotti Park in New York City, a crucial site for Occupy Wall Street). However, what hadn't occurred to me before is that they are actually closed at any point of any day - I always just assumed they were always open. But now I realize that they are just businesses, part of enterprises. People usually consider parks little bundles of nature in the hearts of big, bustling cities; however, even though park do have elements of nature such as plants, insects, and animals, there is nothing natural about them - they are just as artifical and out-of-place as the concrete and steel take make up the cities. What are your thoughts on this?

Note: The quotation was posted on the official Central Park Facebook profile, maintained by the Central Park Conservancy, on November 6th, 2012, at 3:40pm.



Barbara's picture


Do human-beings use everything, natural or artificial, as a building block of our creations? I guess so... But I don't think it affect the fact that those components created by nature is natural. Oh please do not be too skeptical about our efforts to make up some nature that we have destroyed... As mtran said, "there is actually a difference between a big, busy and bustling city with a park in its heart and one without." And the Central Park Conservancy probably didn't think anything other than safety when they made the decision. The existence of Central Park Conservancy proves that parks are lame imitation nature because real nature is sustainable by itself. <3

mtran's picture


Your claim that there is nothign natural about parks reminds me of a Vietnamese poem, of a famous environmentalist and sociologist in my country, which describes the feeling of a tiger "imprisoned" in a zoo in a city surrounded by a manmade environment. The tiger is bored and even disgusted of the fake nature, the poor imiation of the environment. He just wants to get back to his natural habitat, to the splendor forest where he is the king... Yet zoos and parks do count towards humans' effort to bring nature back into our life. What I mean is that, there is actually a difference between a big, busy and bustling city with a park in its heart and one without. They work well a a green space for fresh air, despite being artificial. 

Sarah Cunningham's picture

Who gets to say it's closed?

My first reaction is, if that's common, public space, we don't have to collude in anybody closing it: if we choose to go there anyway, it's open! OK OK maybe we elected the folks who appointed the folks who decided it's too dangerous for a lot of people to be in the park when there are strong winds: might endanger the people who have to end up rescuing them, etc etc. There is a social contract to consider. But the anarchist in me feels its important to recognise that we always have a choice about whether we obey the rules that are out there. "Question authority" is a principle I grew up with. Then we can make a responsible choice. Government does require the on-going consent of the governed. Otherwise you give away the power of standing up to tyranny.