Urban Naturalism – Finding Nature in the City

Image courtesy Chris at Urban Naturalism

Who says you have to be waaaaay out in the country to experience nature? After all,
81% of Americans live in urban or at least semi-urban areas (that number is 49% in the rest of the world). If we couldn’t find any nature in our immediate environs, life would be pretty bleak, indeed.  

Did you know that before large urban parks like Central Park were created, people picnicked at cemeteries? Yes, indeed. In the nineteenth century, city-dwellers were so desperate to have a patch of green to throw their blankets down on that they flocked to cemeteries like Mt. Auburn in Cambridge, MA. After all, you couldn’t exactly hop in the car for a drive out to the country. Frederick Law Olmsted, “the father of landscape architecture,” was dismayed by the lack of public green spaces in cities and decided that there should be more of them. And now we have Central Park, and Prospect Park, and many other urban green landscapes. Thanks, Fred (and Calvert Vaux, among others). 

We also have a lot of “urban naturalists,” people determined to find nature in the city. The best of them share that enthusiasm with the rest of us, and we are richer for it. I just discovered the wonderful Urban Naturalism blog yesterday (“Discovering the Magic Wonderment of an Urban Place). Tool around on this site for other great books and links. And a few worth looking at that aren’t on the blog: Prospect: A Year in the Park, and Mary Winn’s Central Park in the Dark, and The Urban Naturalist. I’m sure there are many more. If you have a favorite book, website, or blog on urban naturalism, let me know.

And if you’re like me and live in the city, you, too can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count! See previous post for more details.