The Best of the Vest: The World's Greatest Pocket Parks

Paris, Barcelona, New York City...Cleveland? Like the oft-hidden urban oasis that are the subject of this article, you may come across some surprises in Crai S. Bower's list of the best cities for pocket parks.

2 minute read

January 21, 2013, 9:00 AM PST

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


"We discover them in the strangest of places, petite verdant secrets along bustling streets, in forgotten neighborhoods," says Bower. "So tiny that 'pocket' is often modified as 'vest pocket,' these pastoral postage stamps invite us to slip out of the urban dimensions, cast in steel and concrete, and experience a misty waterfall, a subtle bistro chair or an arboreal oasis. Recent studies suggest that far from being frivolous afterthoughts, the sewing of pocket parks across a metropolis produces a quantifiable positive effect on the citizenry."

Among the cities identified by Bower as having the best pocket parks are New York, home to Gramercy Park, which "might be the most famous pocket park in the world," and Barcelona, whose "Jardins" and municipal parks cover 10 percent of the city.

How did Celeveland find itself among such regal company? "Long the source of Rust Belt humor, Cleveland has been greening up fast in recent years, creating Metroparks: 14 reservations — many recapturing former industrial zones — that create a greenway encircling the city. The city’s cultural gardens are also worth a visit; the landscaping contains plantings from more than 30 countries, including Albania and India, as well as an African-American and American Legion garden. Clevelanders also can take advantage of several pocket parks downtown, strolling through Fort Huntington, Lincoln and Settler’s Landing parks, a welcome green break from a busy day in this industrial city."

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