Celebrating Parks for all people: Olmsted 200
Olmsted 200: Parks for All People: Unites 120+ Organizations To Advocate for American Parks and Open Space, Marking Bicentennial of Frederick Law Olmsted’s Birth
Nationwide Events, Concerts, Celebrations, and Advocacy Campaigns Will Unfold Across America in 2022
WASHINGTON (January 20, 2022)—April 26, 2022, marks 200 years since the birth of American landscape architect and social reformer Frederick Law Olmsted, who championed the idea of public parks in the United States. In response, more than 120 organizations nationwide have banded together as “Olmsted 200: Parks for All People” for a year of public programming and events designed to celebrate, strengthen and expand parks, open space and American quality of life.
“‘Parks for all people,’ is the theme for hundreds of events across America this year as we celebrate the joy that parks and open spaces bring to our lives,” said Anne Neal Petri, CEO of National Association for Olmsted Parks, which is managing the Olmsted 200 campaign.
“Frederick Law Olmsted birthed the notion of public urban parks, and he created places that bring people together across their differences. These are bold ideas that transformed American life—and Olmsted 200 is devoted to keeping our parks vibrant and ensuring that every American has fair and ready access to parks.”
Events, concerts, tours, and talks are planned in Olmsted landscapes throughout 2022.
Olmsted famously worked on New York’s Central Park and Prospect Park; the U.S. Capitol Grounds; Boston’s Emerald Necklace; Atlanta’s Druid Hills; and numerous parks and landscapes in Chicago, Milwaukee, Buffalo, N.Y., Louisville, Ky., Connecticut, North Carolina, New Jersey, and beyond. He helped design the campuses of Stanford University; University of California, Berkeley; Trinity College; and many other schools and institutions.
Olmsted’s work laid the philosophical foundation for the later creation of America’s national and state park systems, and thousands of local parks.
“Frederick Law Olmsted proffered the idea that landscape architecture could create places that bolster the project of American democracy,” said Sara Zewde, founder of Studio Zewde and Assistant Professor of Practice at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.
“As we look at American life today, we see great need and opportunity to build on these original aims of landscape architecture. That’s what Olmsted 200 is all about.”
“Parks are vital contributors to our physical and mental health,” said Georges C. Benjamin, M.D., executive director of the American Public Health Association, an Olmsted 200 founding partner. “This year, let’s commit to park access for every American as part of a bold vision for public health.”
When out for your daily exercise in Birkenhead Park, why not make things a little interesting and take part in our scavenger hunt? Take a new route and see if you can find everything on our list in the park, take a picture and let us know how you get on!
Please remember to continue to keep your social distance from anyone outside of your household or bubble in Birkenhead Park at this time.
Stage 5 of the Tour of Britain raced through the park this week in what was surely one of the greatest events the Wirral has ever witnessed. Thousands of race fans, families and spectators turned out to support the cyclists and enjoy the festivities.
Birkenhead Park was incredibly proud to host this event, and we would like to extend our deepest thanks to all of the staff, event team and volunteers, who made this a day to remember, without dedicated teams like these, events like this wouldn’t happen!
The Wooden Parliament is located behind the Visitor Center, creating a space immersed within the natural order of the park, and is open to the public.
It looks to articulate the way architecture can serve as a mediator between people and encourage the public to interact in a way they wouldn’t have before.
The brightly coloured structure is overtly patterned and covered in a series of enlarged wooden knots that follow the precise geometry of the pavilion, as well as a centrally placed disk which acts as a door.
‘The Wooden Parliament’ is considered a displacement of a private interior in a public space and inside rows of steps face each other to create platforms or seating to encourage debate, conversation and contemplation.
The Wooden Parliament is designed by Spanish architects Cristina Díaz Moreno and Efrén Ga Grinda of the Madrid-based practice AMID.cero9, sponsored by the Spanish timber company Finsa, supported by Coal Drops Yard and organised by the Museum of Architecture.
Birkenhead Park’s Manager, and one of our Forest School Practitioner were cordially invited to be part of a ceremony honouring Doug Blonsky in New York City on May 2nd.
Doug is the President and CEO of the Central Park Conservatory, the non-profit group responsible for maintaining the park daily and which also raises 75% of the park’s annual budget.
The 36th annual Frederick Law Olmsted Gala paid tribute to Doug Blonsky who gave 33 years with the group that rescued the park from decades of neglect. Doug has also visited Birkenhead Park on several occasions, recognising that without Birkenhead Park, there would be no New York Park.
“England’s historic sites are hotbeds of invention and creativity. Spread across the country, they have shaped both our nation and the world beyond.”
Recently HistoricEngland.org published a list of the 100 most iconic and significant historical places around England. Among this prestigious list was landmarks such as Windsor Castle, the tree from which the apple fell on Sir Isaac Newton, birthing the understanding of the modern world and our very own Birkenhead Park.
Birkenhead Park was chosen for the Homes and Gardens Category, rightfully so being the Country’s, and the World’s, First public park. They also pointed out that it was the inspiration for perhaps the most famous park in the world, Central Park New York.
“Birkenhead Park, The Wirral, Merseyside
Created in 1847, this is thought to be the first publicly funded civic park in the world and marks a change in our attitude to public health. Designed by Joseph Paxton, this green open space filled with lakes and rockeries was created for people of all classes to escape to, away from the industrial hubbub of Liverpool. It is also known to be the inspiration of perhaps the world’s most famous park: Central Park in New York City.In 1850, American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted visited Birkenhead Park, which he called a “People’s Garden”: “I was glad to observe that the privileges of the garden were enjoyed equally by all classes…all this magnificent pleasure ground is entirely, unreservedly, and for ever, the people’s own. The poorest British peasant is as free to enjoy it as the Queen.” Olmsted took what he learned from Birkenhead and went on to win the design competition for New York’s Central Park in 1858.”
We would like to thank Historic Wirral for this accolade and lets all aim to maintain this natural beauty on our doorsteps for future generations to enjoy.
This year, we once again held our famous Fireworks Display for Bonfire Night! Which was a booming success!
Despite the weather not playing along and there being heavy, cold rain for most of the night, visitors and fireworks fans alike turned up in the hundreds. This year we also included a funfair so families with children, who maybe didn’t want to stand in the rain, could play on the rides to pass the time until the explosions went off! We also found that there where visitors who dont often come to the park and found it difficult navigating in the dark, however we had staff at all entrances and the event site itself who made sure that everyone got to where they where meant to be and had a great time!
At a time when urban growth will see 70 percent of the world’s population living in urban areas by 2050, sharing knowledge and providing a collective voice for all people and organisations engaged in green cities, open space, recreation, health and related activity is vital. This was the mantra behind this year’s World Urban Parks Congress, and everything went fantastically! People from the beautiful green spaces all across the world gathered in Birkenhead Park to celebrate it’s 170th anniversary and to experience the world’s first public park, needless to say everyone was highly impressed with the quality and standards of our prestigious park.
There where several different events and talks that happened over the week, such as Doug Blonsky, president and CEO of the Central Park New York Conservancy, giving a talk at the Floral Pavilion about how Birkenhead Park was responsible for the most famous park in the world.
The week ended with a Gala dinner for the various parks being honored and to bestow Birkenhead Park with the Large Urban Parks Gold Award, and we would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who helped us get there!
On September 9th to 10th the park was host to the Hedd Wyn Festival, a commemorative event in honor of the posthumous winner of the 1917 Welsh National Eisteddfod, which was held in Birkenhead Park. The event was host to many notable Welsh personalities, politicians and artists including, Dr Hew Edwards who gave a lecture on David Lloyd George, Professor Robert Lee who gave a lecture in English on Belgian refugees and the creator of the Black Chair, Eugeen Vanfleteren, Professor D. Ben Rees who gave a lecture in Welsh on the Birkenhead Welsh, as well as many Choirs and bands.
“Hedd Wyn (born Ellis Humphrey Evans, 13 January 1887 – 31 July 1917) was a Welsh-language poet who was killed on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele during World War I. He was posthumously awarded the bard’s chair at the 1917 National Eisteddfod. Evans, who had been awarded several chairs for his poetry, was inspired to take the bardic name Hedd Wyn (Welsh: blessed peace) from the way sunlight penetrated the mist in the Meirionnydd valleys. Born in the village of Trawsfynydd, North Wales, Evans wrote much of his poetry while working as a shepherd on his family’s hill farm. His style, which was influenced by romantic poetry, was dominated by themes of nature and religion. He also wrote several war poems following the outbreak of war on the Western Front in 1914.”
The park holds the National Eisteddfod stone (or Logan Stone) to remember the influential poet, this can be seen year round in the lower park by the cricket club.
We where very fortunate to be a part of this celebration and would like to thank all of the staff involved in making it a wonderful experience for everyone who came to pay their respects and learn more about the life of Hedd Wyn.
Over the past few months our park has been looking rather spotless, this is due to the fantastic efforts of our Park Volunteers, and one young girl has made a name for herself and is inspiring other young children to help her clean up litter!
She has been using her own initiative to help find and clean up the litter in the park, her and her friends have been coming each week and raising awareness about the litter problem and several local businesses have donated materials to help like buckets, hi-vis vests and litter pickers.
This kind of affirmative community action is exactly what we love at Birkenhead Park, after all it is the people’s park and it only improves when we all pitch in!
This week was the official unveiling of the new Birkenhead Park Timeline exhibition, attended by Councillor Phil Brightmore, the Friends of Birkenhead Park and Park Staff. This timeline covers the early history of Birkenhead (dating back to the 12th century!) and the colourful history of our unique park.
It will be up in the gallery in the Visitor Center when there are no art exibitions in there.
Councillor Brightmore also wanted to extend his personal congratulations to our heritage green flag gardener of the year, James Ashcroft, for his recent award.
So make sure to come down and see the timeline, maybe you’ll learn something you never knew about the World’s First Park!
Birkenhead Park has once again hosted it’s annual photograph competition to much success!
This year there where over 30 stunning entries from both the Adult and Junior sections. There was a hard decision in announcing the winner as all of the entries where beautiful, and we would like to thank everyone who took part!
However the winner of the adult section was Lukasz Lukomski, for his piece; ‘Morning Blue, he also took third place with his other entry! The prize was a very generous donation of a £50 voucher for professional framing from the Roma Art Gallery.
The winner of the Junior section was Alisha Challinor for a lovely picture of the park’s own swiss bridge!
once again we would like to thank everyone who took part!
Our Very own Heritage Gardener James Ashcroft was nominated and won the England Green Flag Employee of the Year award!
This prestigious honour was thouroughly deserved after all the hard work James and his team have put into the park over the years!
Original Article –
“Jim Ashcroft who works at Birkenhead Park, Wirral has received the England Employee of the Year Award. Jim has been employed as a Gardener/Supervisor Gardener for the past 8 years and is responsible for a team of six staff, he has shown absolute and unwavering dedication to his work in keeping Birkenhead Park at a consistently high standard of maintenance, frequently going above and beyond the necessary requirements of his job role in order to save resources, often at the expense of his own free time.Under his leadership, the Birkenhead Park heritage gardening team has become more efficient and effective in its maintenance and management of this historic landscape, acting as inspiration for all who work with him. He has ensured that the Park has become a more enjoyable and interesting place to work for those under his supervision.Chris Osborne, Marketing and Visitor Services Team Leader at Birkenhead Park said, “Jim is perhaps the single most skilled heritage gardener at Birkenhead Park, and perhaps even in the whole of Wirral Parks and Countryside Service. He is truly an asset to this historic landscape and deserves the recognition of this award.Paul Todd, Green Flag Award Manager said, “Jim’s passion for his work and Birkenhead Park is an example to others. Finding ways in these challenging times to maintain this historic park by going over an above what is required of him in his role makes him a worthy winner.”Jim was presented with the Award at the award ceremony in Hull on the 18th July.”
On 22nd May 2017 School children from our local area are invited to the park to take part in various bio-diversity themed activities, to help raise awareness for the wonderful world around us and preserve it for generations to come.
Bug hotel building, planting pollinator friendly flowers, learning about the bees and their homes, bat games with information, food chain studying, animal and plant life-cycles as well as bringing all these skills home to provide areas for bio-diversity to thrive in your own back garden!
We hope that this lets the kids go home and teach their parents about how important the ecosystem is and what they can be doing to help out!
On 23rd February this year, the UK experienced a “weather bomb” in the form of Storm Doris. Many areas of Wirral were damaged as a result, and the Park was not an exception. Sadly, Birkenhead Park lost 8 trees during the inclement weather, and the main vehicle gates had to remain closed throughout to ensure public safety. Thankfully, our quick reacting heritage gardening team were on hand to ensure safe removal of each of these trees and have begun a scheme to replace them with new features including some upcoming wildflower beds to add a bit of colour!
We would like to say a big thank you to all the Scouts, Sea Scouts, Cubs, Beavers, Explorers and leaders who turned up on St George’s day to help the rangers with the task of revamping the forest School area.
The day involved the kids digging holes for 3 new pole lathes to be fitted in the forest school area as well as the planting of thirty new trees, spreading 3 tons of woodchip, making new paths, moving brash and wood.
The forest school site wasn’t the only area to get a bit of TLC
Sea Scouts and Explorers removed fishing line from the trees surrounding the lakes within the park and pulled in and removed litter with nets.
As well as all this they managed to do a huge litter pick in the park.
All in all the day was a great success, the sun was shining, and over one hundred young people turned up to participate.
It was fantastic to see so many young people working together to expand our wonderful Forest School Classroom and help maintain this glorious grade 1 listed landscape.
On Wednesday 5th April 2017, Birkenhead Park celebrated the 170th anniversary of its opening. Luckily for us – the weather was much better than it was all the way back in 1847, when 10,000 people stood in the rain at the gates to the Grand Entrance to be officially welcomed to the World’s First Publicly Funded Park. At 170 years old, the Park still looks as fantastic and well-kept as it ever has been, and of course we had to have some form of celebration.
This year’s anniversary celebration focussed on one of the prominent figures of Birkenhead Park’s creation and early years: Edward Kemp. In recognition of Kemp’s achievements and influence in Parks in Britain, the Birkenhead Park team worked alongside Conservation Areas Wirral to hold a special civic reception for the unveiling of a new Blue Plaque at the Visitor Centre. There were guest speakers talking about Birkenhead Park and the contributions Edward Kemp made to the early years of the Park and the plaque was dedicated by Wirral Mayor Cllr Pat Hackett shortly after midday. The event guests enjoyed a fantastic buffet laid on by the catering students of Wirral Metropolitan College, in addition to a special anniversary cake.
We’d like to give special thanks everyone involved with making our special anniversary celebration so successful, and we hope the rest of our celebrations this year go just as well.
Back in October 2016, our ranger team organised a special event which took place in the evening around our lower lake. We invited our local community to join us in remembrance of those who are no longer with us. Working with Cruse Bereavement Charity, we created several hundred origami boats which visitors could personalise with their own messages, before setting them afloat on the lake with a candle.
The event raised more than £170 for Cruse Bereavement Charity, and we received a lot of positive feedback for the event. It is our intent to continue this event around the same time this year.
During the 2016 festive season, the team in Birkenhead Park organised a number of charitable ventures, organising a raffle and a “Name the Bear” competition in order to raise some money for the Arrowe Park Premature Birth Unit. In total, the team raised over £200 for this good cause.
Our biggest achievement for our Christmas charitable activities by far was a lunch specially laid out for the elderly at risk this winter. Organised by our Ranger Team, we invited 30 elderly residents from nearby areas to have a Christmas meal on us, held in our function room. We received a number of donations from individuals and numerous businesses in Birkenhead with food, vouchers and items to put into our special care hampers, to help our guests during the cold winter.
For the first time, Birkenhead Park held a Victorian Market in the week leading up to Christmas. The community event was set up to provide an attraction for locals and visitors to enjoy the Park in the festive season. A number of rustic chalets that sold various seasonal food, drink and gifts where set up around the Visitor Centre and children’s attractions were included as well, promising to be a fun day out for all ages. The Birkenhead Park Ranger team constructed a Christmas Grotto in the style of a Victorian Market street in the Visitor Centre itself, ready for Santa to come and visit! Santa’s Grotto was overall the highlight of the event generating a lot of traffic and smiles and forcing us to call him in for impromtu sessions!
The event as a whole was popular throughout the weekend, generating alot of money for charity through the various raffles and competitions we where holding and our team were extremely busy throughout to cater for so many visitors. Unfortunately, the event remained very quiet throughout the rest of the week, despite the best efforts of the team in the Park. We’d like to thank everyone who was involved with and contributed to the running of our Christmas Market. It is unlikely that we will carry out something so ambitious for Christmas 2017, but we will ensure that there is something available for the festivities!