Green Up Cities

Henry Grabar, reporting for Salon:

When Bill Drayton looks at New York, he sees a tremendous missed opportunity. The structural skeleton of this metropolis, as in other American cities of its age, is the hollow block: a group of homes, row houses or low multi-family buildings grouped around an open middle space. Former New York City Mayor Robert Wagner once estimated that 60 percent of the city’s 3,000+ blocks were “hollow.”

Drayton would like to see every one of those hollows transformed into a private park for surrounding residents. Each core is nearly an acre and a half — twice the size of a playground at an NYC primary school; one-and-a-half times the size of the median NYC park. As an open expanse of grass beneath great trees, a shared backyard would be large enough for soccer games, picnics and barbecues, but secured from the surrounding city by the walls of neighbors. A checkerboard of private backyards is, he believes, a squandered resource.

In cities where large parks are few and far between, the future of parkland is right in front of us (or behind us, as it were): thousands of shared parks, playgrounds for the city’s children, meeting places for its adults, and crucibles for building community ties.

You will know the good from the bad when you are calm, at peace. Passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and green redevelopment, never for destruction.