Studies have shown that not only do green spaces in urban environments go a long way in helping to reduce crime, but they also provide a major boost to the mental health of those around it, leading to safer and happier communities. From self-seeded wilderness that overlooks the streets of New York to a restored public park in the heart of Seoul, these are some of the most inspiring green urban spaces out there.
High Line, New York, USA
Just about every city has areas that are derelict and run down, quickly becoming abandoned spaces, and this was exactly the case with the unused railway lines that run high above the streets of Manhattan. Originally built in 1929 and then completely abandoned by the 80’s, the High Line Park was officially unveiled in 2009, giving the area a fresh breath of life that it had not seen in a while. Stretching for over a mile, the High Line is lined with a variety of plants, making it the longest green roof in the world. With the strategic location of drainage systems, nutrient-rich soil layers and the intense heat reflected off of the city’s buildings, the High Line’s unique environment encourages existing plants to self-seed and spread, resulting in a vibrant green space that is relatively self-maintaining.
Hampstead Heath, London, UK
Situated just six kms. from London’s busy Trafalgar Square, Hampstead Heath consists of 800 acres of woodland, meadows, grassland and ponds, bringing a rich biodiversity to the crowded streets of the city. Thanks to its vast size, there are many pockets of the Heath that are a haven for wildlife, and for those who want to take in some nature, there are many different areas to visit. The grounds of Kenwood House is where you will find exotic trees and shrubs, as well as giant rhododendrons, while the Pergola and Hill Garden features wisteria-lined pathways and picturesque views. One of the most popular activities in Hampstead Heath is outdoor swimming, with two swimming ponds available, one for men and one for women, as well as a mixed sex pond that is only open during the summer months. While London might experience more than its fair share of cold weather, the swimming ponds are popular year-round, even when there is ice floating on the surface of the water.
Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord, Duisburg, Germany
Situated on the 570-acre site of a former steel plant, the Landschaftspark in Duisburg, Germany, was created in 1991, with the goal of integrating the existing fragments that were left behind by the area’s industrial era into a green urban space that the residents of the city can enjoy. Existing structures were re-purposed, with a number of different amenities included in order to ensure that the park appealed to a wide variety of people. From hiking trails to a deep diving pool to a rock climbing wall, this abandoned area quickly became one of Duisburg’s hottest spots, paying homage to the city’s industrial past while taking steps towards building a greener and healthier future.
Urban green spaces are of the utmost importance, and cities all over the world are now recognizing just how much of an impact a space like this can have. With the increase in urbanization becoming all-too-common, individuals all over the world are losing touch with nature, making green urban spaces more important than ever, providing the community with positive effects that are sustained over a long period of time.