When living in a large city, such as New York City or San Francisco, it is important to identify space for art, for exercise, for leisure, accessible to all. This builds community connection and can allow for physical activity and access to the cultural fabric of a city.
In San Francisco, there are privately-owned public open spaces (POPOS), including plazas, terraces, atriums, and small parks, provided and maintained by private developers. Prior to 1985, developers provided POPOS in the Financial District under three general circumstances: voluntarily, in exchange for a density bonus, or as a condition of approval. Since 1985, there has been an expectation, to build in certain districts, to provide this type of space. There is the fun of discovery: POPOS exist on roofs, on connecting elevated walkways between buildings, and in lobbies such as the image depicted. These spaces serve as a meeting point, as a way to connect with the city in which you live, as space in which to think.
In New York City, I have been following the development of new park systems. Some of these parks, built on unused rail lines, are linear and elevated. An example is the High Line, pictured above on right, a park in Manhattan's west side. A park being considered in central Queens, to be called Queen's Way, has 320,000 people living within a mile of the proposed space. This has even wider reaching consequences when looking at the fact that some of the elementary schools adjacent to the proposed park have no play space. The students would be able to access the park structures for unstructured play.
These spaces are key for several reasons. People are no longer as likely to meet and connect with neighbors. Organized social play, such as card games like Bridge, are played less. Being a member of an organization often simply means annual dues rather than organized activity with others. These spaces serve as a medium for people to connect with other people. In addition, lower income neighborhoods can have limited access to play space and art space. The ever widening gap between poor and rich requires a built environment that equalizes access to such space. A final example, in San Francisco, is "Sunday Streets" where people bike, rollerblade, walk, and skate with family and friends through streets shut down to vehicular traffic.
Dr. Groesz has been interviewed by Men's Health Magazine, Self Magazine, USA Today, and radio talk shows on her eating disorder research. This blog showcases opinions on topics that range from overeating to life's meaning to mental health disorders.