Houston tops America in many things, culinary diversity, racial diversity, employment, cost of living etc, now add parks to the list, specifically the amount of park space in the city.
Parks matter, green lungs in a city matter, a lot. Humans are not robots, for all the beauty of skyscrappers in a city, humans are a part of nature and are built to be part of nature meaning they need at all times to be able to reconnect with nature. And Houston does a great job of providing Houstonians with green spaces to unwind and maintain their sanity in a city.
This was not always the way American cities were built. This was not the way cities were designed in most circumstances. Cities are an important way of organising human society, and they obviously have an impact on the environment, but cities were always designed to house people and be a place to conduct trade for benefit of enabling societal life. Cities were thought to be where skyscrapers and tall buildings were built. It wasn’t long ago that the term concrete jungle meant a space that was filled with a whole maze of dull concrete buildings. Things have changed, cities are still concrete jungles, but the operative word is no more concrete – it is now jungles. Cities have become habitats for natural life apart from humans, places where rare animal species are found.
Perhaps one of the brightest stars in the constellation of Houston’s parks is the one located right in the heart of the city – Discovery Green. It shines so bright, it beat out New York City’s Central Park as number one on Travel + Leisure’s Coolest Parks in America. The park was developed in the 2000s as part of a public-private partnership, designed with public and private funds and constantly taking in feedback from the ‘public at large’.
What makes Discovery Green special?
Because it is a home of arts, expression and creation and a welcome reprieve from the imposing skyscrapers nearby, most of all it is a park that the locals actually visit and enjoy.
You can’t always say that about parks.
It is not as imposing and grand as Balboa Park in San Diego, you could say its more inviting and personal. While Balboa Park is a celebration of human achievement, Discovery Green is a celebration of human responsibility and is a powerful example of how green lungs are being reclaimed for more mentally sustainable living in this American city of the future.
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