Essays & Images on Cities, Travel and Contemporary Culture. A web journal of James A. Clapp, Ph.D., an UrbisMedia Ltd. Production

CQQ-No.022: The Lungs of the City

Even the chairs in London's main park seem to be a leisure. ©1979, James A. Clapp

Even the chairs in London’s main park seem to be a leisure. ©1979, James A. Clapp

Among the many organic metaphors that have been employed to describe cities and their various parts, urban parks are often referred to as “the lungs of the city.” Certainly the “breathing space” that they afford has a literal “oxygenating” function provided by their foliage; but their psychological breathing space is probably the greater in importance, offering maneuvering space in relief of the busy byways of the constructed city.

City parks come in all shapes, sizes, and of course functions. Some retain a sylvan naturalness to remind us from whence we evolved and emerged not all that long ago; some have become canvasses for our landscaping expressions, from the subtle to the formal; and some have almost completely abandoned passive repose to become settings for more active social and recreational activities. As venues for plays, band gazebos, equestrian paseos , baseball and soccer matches, picnics, protests, duels, physical fitness, bird-watching, and furtive lovemaking, among innumerable personal and public pursuits, parks have proven to be indispensable to urban life, and have added much to urban lore.

Below are a score of renowned city parks that have adorned and helped to make the greatness of the cities to be matched.

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©2004, ©2015, James A. Clapp (UrbisMedia Ltd. Pub. 1.1.2004)