Dog Parks and Gentrification

When is a dog park more than just a park for dogs?

2 minute read

February 28, 2019, 1:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Shibuya, Tokyo

Piu_Piu / Shutterstock

Kriston Capps reports on plans for a "luxury dog park" included in the controversial Lincoln Yards mega-development planned in Chicago.

When it’s completed over the next decade or so, the dog park nestled inside Lincoln Yards, a much-discussed $6 billion mega-development now taking shape on Chicago’s waterfront, could be the toniest pet playground in the nation. With its splash pool and pug-mug video installation—an homage to Millennium Park’s famous Crown Fountain—the only thing SOM’s design for Chicago puppers is missing is an oversized mirrored bone.

Though the dog park is one of the least controversial components of the project, according to Capps, it's still a "small marker of disparity in the city." The consequences of this marker, "range from worrisome sign of neighborhood gentrification to outright structural inequality," writes Capps.

Capps details the imbalance of dog park locations in the city of Chicago, where the fine for allowing having a dog off-leash is $300. Tickets for off-leash dogs are disproportionately written in African-American neighborhoods, and dog parks are disproportionately located in affluent, whiter neighborhoods. "Almost all of Chicago’s dog parks fall in areas that are majority white, though such neighborhoods make up a relatively small part of Chicago’s geography," explains Capps.

Still, there's reason to think the imbalance might change. Plans for five dog parks are currently in the works for the South Side of Chicago. Capps also connects the Chicago example to the larger, national conversation about the growing influence of dog owners in parks and open space planning.

Thursday, February 28, 2019 in CityLab

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