The Infrastructuralist has a good article on the most notable urban parks in the world. It is a list of the vast green lungs on which great cities breathe–something our emerging City is starved of. There is no great urban park in Miami. There are bay-front lawns that are scantily used, poorly stewarded, and do little to bring the urban fold together. What Miami has, and is largely overlooked, is a lot of vacant urban land. Being that vacant land is a prerequisite for park space, these parcels, in and of themselves, while not much, together, represent true urban park potential.
Aerial view of vacant parcels in the Brickell Interior--reserved for the development of Brickell CitiCenter
Miami, unless it’s willing to imminent domain land on a 1960’s Overtown-devastating scale, cannot have an uber-large urban park the likes of what the Infrastructuralist mentions, and must instead seize smaller parcels and convert them to park use, a’ la Savannah (with its squares). This, if not done, will result in an urban environment devoid of green space to chill out, converse, converge, and depart from the daily grind.
Parks, aside from, among many other things, being meeting points and a boost to peripheral land values, can showcase local art. There is no better example than Gaudi’s famed Parc Guell in Barcelona. Commissions to create fountains and public art installations can give a much needed boost to local artists and do well to reflect Miami’s artistic depth, but this is not meaningfully discussed.
Aerial view of vacant land at the confluence of S. MIami Avenue and SE 1st Ave.
The parcel of land that shown in the image above was once going to be the site of a building known as the Flatiron–an allusion to its namesake in NYC. This project, like so many others, was scrapped, and what remains is a vacant lot used, at times, as a parking lot. If you put on your rose tinted urban glasses, you might see a park with a grand fountain surrounded by buildings. A canvas for local art. A fountain representative of our City’s soul, it’s place in the world, anything but another building. Let the City be a living room, a gathering place, a showcase for the people, and not just a narrow stomping ground for impatient pedestrians, a concrete and glass labyrinth.
Admittedly, Brickell has its share of parks. Let’s see: Simpson Park, which, in its fenced-in state, is not exactly welcoming; Southside Park, which is on the fringes of urbanism; and if you want to count the Miami Circle, the City’s very own, ancient who knows what the hell, then you have one more. Affluent Brickell is park poor and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime, ever.