by Alexander Garvin

W. W. Norton & Company, $65.00, 223 pages

Public Parks: The Key to Livable Communities is an encyclopedic style, beautifully presented book on public parks in America. Alexander Garvin, author of this methodically detailed work, purveyor of urban planning and advocate for the values in public parks, not just for their beauty and enjoyment of the communities they serve but also strategically, of the importance parks play in the success of the human spirit, the cities’ core relevance and what key part they play together for sustainability. Much research and analysis is shared in this book; analysis on park development, design influences, location and overall governing of parks is discussed.

Our own beautiful Portland, Oregon is featured in a few chapters with parks such as; Keller Fountains, McCall Waterfront Park and the Pearl District. Parks include fountains, play structures, luscious lawns, sports areas, waterfalls, fauna, rocks, statues, natural habitats, trees and flowers. The list is endless what a park can include and how valuable they are to bring people – often times, total strangers, together as a community. If you are a traveler who enjoys all of what America has to offer or just a curious observer, Public Parks is a wonderful book to own, read and enjoy.

Reviewed by M. Chris Johnson,