Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Personal Space in Public Parks

September 19th, 2009 · No Comments

   Perfect space. Invasion of perfect space. Straight alleys, grass cut to the perfect inch, clean fountains with not even a leaf floating in sight, trees planted in a straight row with carefully calculated distance. Regent’s Park is one of the most perfect parks in existence, so are the Green and Hyde Parks. Coincidently they are all located in London, England. After spending a month in London and visiting the parks as well as having a few class sessions held in Regent’s Park I have learned to appreciate the high mannerism of English parks. After all, I am used to Central and Prospect Parks in New York City, where every couple of steps you will find young adults on blankets, playing music from their speakers on the highest volume possible, dogs running freely, and tramps, as the English like to say, trying to find a spot to spend a night. In London parks it seems that all of the above would be considered as poor behavior in a park. William Pitt said “The parks are the lungs of London,” therefore, I believe that the parks that we have explored are  great representations of the London culture and its society. 

   I want to begin by discussing Green Park and Hyde Park which are both part of Royal Parks of London. Both are of great size; however, Hyde Park wins with 350 acres of space. Upon entering the parks, I was overwhelmed, by not only the perfection of the parks but also the beauty. In the busy and crowded London, it is surprising to find that such large, green spaces that provide a sense of escape. Escape. Throughout centuries, parks seem to do just that, provide leisure and relaxation for Londoners, no matter what their background or social class. With fountains, lakes, and open space for exercising,  parks provide the “personal space” for every individual. Although Regent’s Park as well as the other two have a sense of perfection, it seemed that the London residents are comfortable using the park for their daily escape for jogging, laying on the grass, walking their dogs, or just getting their daily dose of fresh air. 

   As I have mentioned before, the care that goes into maintaining the beauty of London parks is of great task. It reflects the importance that parks have on the society, as well as the importance of order for the English. Parks are also the representation of London’s history. Green Park, besides being currently connected to the Buckingham Palace and its gardens, is said to have originally served as a swampy burial ground for lepers from the nearby hospital at St. James’s. Henry VIII enclosed it in 16th Century, after which the area was surrendered to Charles II who made it into a Royal Park. At the present time, there are government offices and corridors, linking the nearby Royal palaces, beneath the east side of Green Park and continue to run to the south. 

   Although at first I was uncomfortable with the perfection of the London parks and its well groomed grounds, I learned to appreciate the care and the history of each park. Residents of London have made parks as spaces of their own. I still prefer the smaller squares around Bloomsbury area that provide more intimate feeling, but I can say that there are no parks in the world like the ones here in London.

Tags: Jeyla