Gorky Park's Transformation from Gritty to Glam

Moscow's Gorky Park, once the rundown backdrop of a murder novel, has experienced a remarkable turnaround. Today, the mayor imagines its recovery as part of his legacy while Muscovites simply see it as the perfect place to play, dine, and relax.
David Basulto / Flickr

"Long a drab concrete repository of secondhand carnival rides, Gorky Park has been transformed over the past two years into one of the most extravagant, exuberant and excessive urban recreational spaces in a major world capital. Imprinted in many Western minds by the Soviet-era crime novel and film of the same name, Gorky Park celebrates its 85th anniversary this month. It is not only a park in the leafy retreat sense, but also a psychic respite from the increasingly tense political pressures of modern Russia," writes David M. Herszenhorn.

"Beyond the gardens for strolling and the ponds for paddle-boating, the park in its current form is instead an entertainment destination with more than a dozen restaurants, two dance platforms, an outdoor movie theater, and Garage, a buzzy modern arts center housing an exhibition hall and concert space."

"There are basketball and tennis courts, and many Ping-Pong tables, but the park also embraces extreme sports in a way that would thrill personal injury lawyers in the West, with places for skating, bicycle jumping, skateboarding and the obstacle-course bounding of parkour and free-running. There is also beach volleyball (thanks to tons of trucked-in sand) and even pétanque, the French bocce, played nonstop outside a cafe that could have been imported directly from Provence."

"Mayor Sergei S. Sobyanin, who is running for re-election, counts rejuvenating the city’s parks as one of his main achievements, and he has an even bigger, multimillion-dollar renovation planned that will connect Gorky to several other parks for a green belt along much of the Moscow River."

Full Story: Gorky Park, Once Drab, Now Glows

Comments

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $16.95 a month
Book cover of Where Things Are from Near to Far

Where Things Are From Near to Far

This engaging children's book about planning illustrates that "every building has its place."
$19.95
T-shirt with map of Chicago

Show your city pride

Men's Ultrasoft CityFabric© tees. Six cities available.
$23.00