Sunday, February 03, 2008

things that go through my brain

Whenever I go to the park, as I did this afternoon, I think about the Sims. And Field of Dreams.
If you build it, they will come.

Did you ever play SimCity (thanks, BF)? I'm talking about the early 90s version, without the internet or individual characters, where you got to choose your geographic area and then could build chunks of roads, buildings, housing tracts, malls, etc. You would know you were successful because stoplights would appear on the roads and flea-sized cars would run around the highways and buildings. Then you got to build more parts of your city until the cars slowed and disappeared.

The park is interesting to me. The city makes no money to provide a place for people to jog, for children to play, for horseriders to explore (where do people store horses in New York City?!), for lovers, friends and families to roam and stroll together, for people like me to get outside just because. But on days like this, there are always plenty of people, of all ages, out and about, enjoying the space and place, breathing outdoor air. Do these people come to the park every weekend? Every day even? Only once in a while? What brought the elderly woman in a fur coat and hat to the park road, perched on her portable chair cane in the sunshine?

Will parks ever go out of style? More and more people spend more and more hours inside, with television and computers and video games, so do the officials want to cut down on park space? What about the money thing--how much are green areas threatened by greed? Many parks must be in prime real estate and would make some companies billions if transferred to retail or residences. Who's protecting the interest of the "eco freaks," as one magazine letter put it? With the ever increasing crowding in cities, will there ever come a day that natural trees go the way of the dodo? Does that even make sense? Is it good for children to grow up in urban locations with only occasional visits to the park, as opposed to having backyards and forests freely available?

Also, why does the back staircase sometimes smell exactly like a horse stable?


boyfriend said...

Ooh, that's not The Sims - you're talking about SimCity. But yeah, I loved that game. I loved seeing the tiny houses turn into huge condos and small businesses turn into skyscrapers. Except I'd always grow my city to a certain size only to see it brought down by a huge crime wave or something. Frustrating.

NCavillones said...

Actually, cities do make money off of parks, in a way, if you look at it as an amenity. People who live around places like Central Park and Prospect Park and Forest Park pay higher taxes and higher housing costs. It also attracts people to the area. All those hotels on Central Park, it's no accident that they are some of the expensive hotels in the world.
Also, the city saves money by having public parks and public spaces because it improves quality of life and provides a oasis of health, in some sense.
The city might not pay for the parks but WE do! :)

bettyb said...

I've never heard of SimCity, but it sounds fascinating. Personally, as a kid I enjoyed going to my grandparents' farm more than the park. There were a few smells there too, but I enjoyed the fresh air and getting to gather eggs. I think the main thing was just getting to do nothing and enjoy the day.

Anonymous said...

I rebuilt Hamburg after the firebombing a whole bunch of times. First you need to maintain what's there as you fight the fires. Then you need roads, need houses, need green, lots of green. Little clusters are good, so when a disaster hits, the damage doesn't.

Detroit needs the same treatment, but you need to knock the factories down before the neighborhoods go ugly. I seem to remember that Detroit was much tougher than Hamburg. And I think they wouldn't let you build in Windsor.