86. The Urban Built vs The Urban Park
The counterpart to the urban every day is the urban park
Consider that the whole of Anchorage is made up of different identifiable spaces. Each space serves a use such as industrial, residential, business, park. These uses populate throughout Anchorage nestling adjacent to each other and creating imaginary demarcations. Some demarcations are gradual, some work together in a jigsaw fashion, some are abrupt, but there is always one transition that stands out in every city, especially Anchorage: The urban built environment to the urban park. This is a unique transition in that is not only seen visually, but mentally as people move towards that open green space which provides a relief from the built environment of urban density. People migrate to the urban park to regenerate from the stress of every day life and enjoy the stillness of the present moment.
For the downtown area one such space is the Delaney Park otherwise known as: the park strip defined by the edge of the downtown core on the north, residential on the south and west, and a major road & elementary school on the east. This one block by fourteen block green space is home to a myriad of actives throughout the year and truly represents a space of relief for the people of Anchorage. Wednesday evenings in the summer the Alaska Club hosts Yoga In the Park which brings hundreds of yogis and fills at least a 1x1 block space. On windy days the skyline is dotted with kites of all sizes. You may find picnickers taking a respite from their office desks or groups gathered for a pick-up soccer game during lunch. In the winter the park strip hosts events to include mini dog sled rides during Fur Rondy. There are tennis courts, iceskating rinks, a memorial to veterans. Delany Park is the back yard of downtown Anchorage where people travel through the streets towards this green space to run and play.
While Delaney Park provides relief to the urban setting of downtown, the multi use trail systems
throughout anchorage facilitate as an urban park for the whole of Anchorage, throughout Anchorage. This trail system also daisy chains parks after parks and is one reason many people love Anchorage. Residents can commute to work without touching a road until entering downtown. These trailed are used every day for walking, running, road biking, fat tire biking, cross country skiing. Trail users can take a 30+ mile loop around Anchorage using the trail system. One such example is: Russian Jack trail, through University Lake trail, to Campbell Creek trail, to Kincade, to the Tony Knowles Coastal trail, skirt downtown through ship creek to the Ship Creek trail, through Mountain View, to Russian Jack trail, and home. The trails are definitively a relief from the stress of every day life. They are defined by a layer of green space which buffers the trails from the neighborhoods, business parks, and industrial areas as they parallel waterways and wind through the city traveling over and under major roads.
Looking at an ariel map of Anchorage one can clearly see the impact of how these spaces interface the urban grid. They are integral to the success and culture of the city. The book Urban Code 100 Lessons for Understanding the City mentions the words 'mutual dependencies'. The mutual dependencies between Anchorage and it's parks and trail systems are so strong that without them Anchorage would not be Anchorage. The people would not be Anchoragites and I would most definitely would not be who I am today without the influence of Anchorage's urban parks.
*Inspired by lesson 86 from: Urban Code 100 Lessons for Understanding the City by Anne Mikoleit and Moritz Purkhauer