New York Times — “In Chicago and Philadelphia, the Difference a Park Makes”

March 12, 2017

“Chicago is at the forefront of a growing, big-city trend. It has been undertaking a major parks and open space program, upgrading neighborhood playgrounds and recreation centers, scooping up acres of disused land for new green areas and repurposing large swaths of formerly industrial waterfront. ...

From Philadelphia to Seattle, other American cities are also banking on parks and public spaces to drive social and economic progress. ... The effort in Chicago to improve and expand them has, neighborhood by neighborhood, delivered long-term rewards. ...

Mayor Jim Kenney of Philadelphia [...] was swept into office last year on a platform committing hundreds of millions of dollars to fixing up some 400 dilapidated green spaces, ball fields, pools, libraries and recreation centers in underserved districts. ... 

Changing demographics, new technologies and evolving demands by residents on parks and libraries to be complex community hubs require that these places receive more than just a fresh lick of paint or sod. ... They need extensive rethinking. ...

Chicago is trying to send the same message. East of Little Village, in the Bridgeport neighborhood, Studio Gang, the highly regarded architecture firm, has designed an elegant new zinc-clad public boathouse, with clerestory windows and a jagged roofline (based on stop-action photographs of rowers, the architects say), providing a gateway from Bridgeport to the waterfront. Farther north, the 606, Chicago’s version of the High Line, which opened in mid-2015, has turned a defunct rail corridor into a wildly popular pedestrian greenway.”

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Photo: Kevin Miyazaki for the New York Times