How to Build an Oasis

Unlike the wild approach to Pelham Bay Park, most public gardens are designed spaces. At the turn of the century, landscape architects like Frederick Law Olmsted and Ebenezer Howard saw the egalitarian potential of park design. Howard in particular approached his “garden cities” as hybrid spaces where urban and park land intermixed and mingled to allow the urban poor just as much access to landscape as the wealthy. For his part, Olmstead fought to keep parks as public spaces, a progressive concept at the time.

Over the centuries, the approach to greenspace has shifted from a private endeavor to a more public, community-oriented one. How do each of the perspectives in the objects presented below speak to an idea of what a park should look like or who it should be for? What are the common elements and diverse ones? These examples are from across the centuries and across the globe but represent a universal effort to integrate nature into the fabric of human life.