Happy July Fourth to those from the United States. It’s a day to relax but also remember. I wanted to take this occasion to provide a brief update on one of my most memorable places, Elm Park in downtown Worcester, Massachusetts. It is one of the oldest Park’s in the United States. I’ve blogged about the park many times, most recently about the experience of being forgotten there, as illustrated by the state of some of the more contemplative locations at the Park. It made for interesting photography but poor park upkeep. Then, low and behold, in the middle of that project, the City, State and Feds came to the rescue and began a significant restoration of the park. I’ve continued to photograph the changing nature of Elm Park as the reconstruction, in the north-east corner at this point, continues. I have to admit, it has taken some getting used to. I had grown quite fond of the shabbiness of the old dowager, but that won’t make for a viable and livable inner city.
The process has created a number of interesting visual opportunities, in and of itself. Rebuilding is co-existing with on-going use of the Park where that can be done safely. (Click on the images for a better view.)
There are significant signs of progress.
Those familiar with the Park will know this scene. The stones along the shoreline are new. Children used to feed geese on the sand here, there was no clearly demarcation of the Pond. That may seem kind of nice and wonderful on the surface except it’s bad for the geese and the Park. It always used to bug me that such behavior would take place right under a big sign that says “Feeding Wildlife is Harmful to the Wildlife and the Park.” But I digress. The construction has also provided an opportunity to see the detail that goes into making a park work. Did you ever wonder why all those trash cans are never stolen? Here’s the reason…
That is one big base. Invest in trashcan stability in major urban parks. You cannot go wrong. The lighting is also changing. Previously, there had been rather attractive lighting in the Park. It was sparse and rarely turned on. Now lights are being added throughout. With the exception of some very tall structures around the north pond, most will I think fit right in with the history of the park. Some are up now, but not turned on yet and as such, not particularly good photographic subjects. This will give you an idea, however.
So the work continues and I’ll try to provide more imagery in the future. It is difficult to document a project like this with a fine art eye. It may be that only the final product will do justice to the intangible experience of the Park, an experience that those of us who love it will always value.
It is so easy to think that “common” areas such as parks have no place in our individualized society. It’s also easy to dis the government for nearly everything. These commons, such as Elm Park though provide the touch points for a society. That remains as important as it always has been. So thanks to those who are maintaining this particular touch point.