During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I, like many, struggled with mental health at times. In times of social distancing and isolation, I realized that my health, more than anything, should be prioritized. In times of isolation, I needed to do wellness checks for my mental and physical health.
At that same time the pandemic started, I also moved to the Jamaica Plain neighborhood. I got to experience the amazing parks and green spaces Boston had to offer. With Jamaica Pond, the Arboretum and Olmsted Park all within walking distance from my new apartment, I spent many of my days walking outside after my workday. Getting outside and experiencing the beauty around me helped with my physical and mental health during the pandemic. It was the safest way to socialize with friends and family – it was the closest thing we had to have a normal life at the time.
In trying to find parks to visit, I wanted to build something that helps people find parks in Boston, Brookline and Cambridge more easily. There had to be a better way for people to find parks in new neighborhoods, and sort by activity, sport, scenic views, public art and playground amenities.
There had to be a better way for people to find parks in new neighborhoods
I started to frantically make a list of parks I could find on Google Maps, taking note of the amenities like sports fields and courts, and other amenities like dog parks, water fountains and public restrooms. To further document this information, I’d plan my running and biking routes to physically visit these parks, and confirm park amenities, while taking pictures of the park to add to the website.
250 parks later, and Urbnparks.com is a website that helps people find parks and green spaces in Boston based on what they want to do outdoors in the city. Thanks to Olmsted’s vision, the present-day parks of the Emerald Necklace are well-managed and scenic places to enjoy the city outdoors. I’d like to think that the website carries Olmsted’s vision of people finding these beautifully designed parks to use.