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Guelph Park in East Vancouver was just like any other under-appreciated park in a city near you: grassy but forgettable. Until a fake sign was erected in one corner by a local artist, christening it with a new name: “Dude Chilling Park”. Suddenly, Guelph/Dude Chilling Park became a global sensation.
It’s easy to forget that beyond the tourist- and greenery-covered High Line, there are still 300 yards of old, rusting train track. This last patch of decaying NYC railway will soon be turned into the final stretch of the super-successful park — but for now, they’re home to a little-known outdoor gallery.
I’m not gonna lie: It’s a lot like meeting Oz in his Emerald City. Mostly because no one associated with him would set up a formal time for me to meet with Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos and the financial and philosophical force behind the Downtown Project, the $US350 million urban revitalisation program transforming downtown Las Vegas. I was encouraged instead simply to “find him” at one of the events happening the week I was in town.
Moscow has chosen a design for its first new public park in half a century. Zaryadye Park will sit on a 13-acre site that’s been host to some colourful history: The homes of 16th century aristocrats, 18th century peasants, a Stalin-ordered redevelopment, a failed plan to build the city’s tallest skyscraper, and finally, the world’s largest hotel — demolished in 2006.
Living in cities, driving on freeways, going to work, sitting in cubicles, shopping at supermarkets, surrounding yourself in urban density and all around stepping away from nature makes it easy to forget how beautiful she can be. We should never forget.