Historical Abstract from Jordan,H Public Parks 1885-1914, GG

The public park movement, which started in the 1830s, sprang mainly out of a desire to improve health in the over-crowded conditions of the rapidly growing industrial towns. By the end of the Victorian era the need for public open space had become widely appreciated. Increasingly, parks additionally became symbols of civic pride, providing inhabitants and visitors alike with attractive surroundings in which to enjoy their leisure time. In the minds of their promoters they also assumed a social role as places of betterment for the lower levels of society. To encourage their use more attractions were provided: music, sports facilities, and horticultural displays, and the park was frequently coupled to a museum, art gallery or library. As it became clear that open space within a town brought many benefits, so more councils actively sought to secure parks and recreation grounds, changes in legislation from central government aiding their efforts. The height of the parks movement coincided with a fashion for munificent philanthropic gestures, and the gift of a park from a wealthy citizen became a common occurrence. Those less well off frequently did their bit too, and much open space was secured by public subscription. More public parks were opened between 1885 and 1914 than either before or after this period.


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