A linear park is a park in an urban or suburban setting that is substantially longer than it is wide.[note 1] Some are rail trails ("rails to trails"), that is disused railroad beds converted to recreational use, while others use of strips of public land next to canals, streams, extended defensive walls, electrical lines, highways and shorelines. They are also often described as greenways. In Australia, a linear park along the coast is known as a foreshoreway.
Possibly the earliest example is the Emerald Necklace, which consists of a 1,100-acre (4.5 km2), or 445 hectare chain of parks linked by parkways (a broad, landscaped highway) and waterways in Boston and Brookline, Massachusetts, US. It gets its name from the way the planned chain appears to hang from the "neck" of the Boston peninsula. This linear system of parks was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted to connect Boston Common and Public Garden (1837) to Franklin Park, known as the "great country park." The project began around 1878 with the effort to clean up and control the marshy area which became the Back Bay and the Fens. In 1880, Olmsted proposed that the Muddy River, be included in the park plan. The current was dredged into a winding stream and directed into the Charles River. Olmsted's vision of a linear park of walking paths along a gentle stream connecting numerous small ponds was complete by the turn of the century but for a never completed section to Boston Harbor. However, the subsequent development of the automobile severely disrupted the original concept.
Later in England linear parks have also been created around waterways, especially in cities where the terrain is such that rivers and brooks have significant flood plains. Such land cannot sensibly be used for urban development and so is set aside as a civic amenity. Milton Keynes, a New Town created in England in the late 1960, makes extensive use of linear parks, with nine different examples that include the flood plains of the Great Ouse and of its tributaries (the Ouzel and some brooks).
In Greater London, Essex and Hertfordshire, the Lee Valley Park is a 10,000-acre (40 km2) 26 miles (42 km) long linear park, much of it green spaces, running along the flood plain of the River Lea from the River Thames to Ware, through areas such as Stratford, Clapton, Tottenham, Enfield, Walthamstow, Cheshunt, Broxbourne and Hoddesdon in an area generally known as the Lea Valley. Greater London's largest park, Lee Valley Park is more than four times the size of Richmond Park, extending beyond Greater London's borders into the neighbouring counties of Hertfordshire and Essex.
A more recent example of a linear park is the Berlin Mauerpark, which was built on a part of the former Berlin Wall area and its adjacent former death strip. Another example is Planty Park, Kraków, Poland). It encircles the Stare Miasto (Old Town), where the Medieval city walls used to stand until the early 19th century. The park has an area of 52 acres and a length of 4 kilometers (2.5 mi). It consists of a chain of thirty smaller gardens designed in varied styles and adorned with numerous monuments and fountains. The park forms a scenic walkway popular with Cracovians. In summer, sprinkled with ponds and refreshment stalls, it is a cool and shady retreat from the nearby bustling streets.
In some cities, many linear parks run through residential areas, where housing will front streets and back onto small linear parks containing a pathway, trees and grass. Examples are numerous in some Canadian cities such as Saskatoon. Another example is the BeltLine system currently being planned and built in sections is the in Atlanta, Georgia, US, which will completely encircle its central business districts, and include a trail and eventual light rail line on existing tracks instead of another road.
List of linear parks
- Brampton Valley Way in Northamptonshire and Leicestershire, England
- Hogsmill River Park, London, England
- Mile End Park, East London, England
- Beltline Linear Park and West Toronto Railpath, Toronto, Ontario
- Grand Concourse (St. John's), Newfoundland: a walkway system with linear parks
- Parc linéaire de la rivière Saint-Charles, Québec City, Québec
- Strathcona Linear Park, Vancouver, British Columbia
- Embarcadero, San Francisco, California
- Pastor Willie James Ford, Sr. Linear Park, Deerfield Beach, Florida
- Alewife Linear Park, Massachusetts
- Charles River Esplanade, Boston, Massachusetts
- East Boston Greenway, Boston, Massachusetts
- Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston, Massachusetts
- The 606 (Bloomingdale Trail), Chicago, Illinois
- Burnham Greenway, Chicago, Illinois
- Dequindre Cut, Detroit, Michigan
- High Line Park, New York City
- Ocean Parkway, New York City
- Eastern Parkway, New York City
- Mosholu Parkway, The Bronx, New York City
- Pelham Parkway, The Bronx, New York City
- Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, Queens, New York City
- Hudson River Park, New York City
- Midtown Greenway and trails network of Minneapolis, Minnesota
- James River Park System, Richmond, Virginia
- Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park, Northern Virginia
- The Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas
- The Loop, Tucson, Arizona
- There is no dictionary definition for the term in the full Oxford Dictionary of English. Linear: Resembling a line; very narrow in proportion to its length, and of uniform breadth. Oxford Dictionary of English. The term linear park seems to be first used on a regular basis in the 1960s and 1970s (Google Ngram Viewer). The earliest usage in Britain is, in reference to the idea of a River Thames "linear national park", in Time on the Thames by Eric Samuel De Maré (Architectural Press, 1952) (Ngram). Google Ngram Viewer, however, indicates a few earlier examples, including the US in 1939 (Supplementary report of the Urbanism Committee to the National Resources Committee, Volume 2. United States. National Resources Committee. Research Committee on Urbanism, Clarence Addison Dykstra. U.S. Govt. 1939.) It may also have been used in 1873, but Ngram didn't provide the source(s).
- "Parks and Recreation Programming Master Plan" (PDF). Hurst, Tx City Council. Retrieved 2009-04-06.
- "Study Trail profiles". U.S. Department of Transport Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved 2009-04-06.
- Truman Greenway, Savannah, Georgia, US
- City of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
- "parkway."Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002. http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com (14 Apr. 2007).
- Emerald Necklace Greenway
- Emerald Necklace Greenway
- Emerald Necklace Greenway
- Ouse Valley Park - Milton Keynes Parks Trust
- Ouzel Valley Park - Milton Keynes Parks Trust
- Parks Trust Milton Keynes
- Andrew Beattie, From the Piast Church to the Holy Cross Church Landmark Publishing, page 40.
- City of Saskatoon
- "Paris Elevated Rail Park Featured in Movie 'Before Sunset'". Friends of the High Line. August 12, 2004. Archived from the original on October 23, 2014. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
- District 4 News - January 22, 2015 (Commissioner Bill Ganz)