A pocket park can be defined as a small landscaped space that provides a sitting or recreation area, usually constructed on a vacant or underutilized lot. Pocket parks, while little and often hidden, can increase surrounding home ownership values, fill in an irregular plot of infrastructure convergence, and provide a convenient solution to finding usable open space in a dense urban area. Richmond has more than its fair share of these pocket parks; this article will cover three of them.
Two of the most well known pocket parks, Lombardy Park and Meadow Park share commonalities both in geographic location and the circumstances of their settings: both are triangle shaped and ease the convergence of two popular Fan roads. Meadow Park brings together Stuart and Park Ave, and a few blocks to the east, Lombardy Park splits Hanover and Park. In both these situations a pocket park is perfect infill and gives the surrounding houses a better view than simply a wide street.
Lombardy Park is surrounded by a short brick wall and small cast iron gates, shrouded on nearly all sides by mature trees. It contains seating areas, a sand box and playground, and houses a fall festival annually.
Meadow Park, on the other hand, is wrapped by a brick sidewalk, and protected mainly by bushes. Roughly the same size as Lombardy, Meadow contains no playground, more sitting areas and a fountain, but most memorably a seven foot tall bronze statue at the eastern tip of the triangle, a monument to the first regiment of the Virginia Infantry.
Harrison Park, the third pocket park on the aptly named Park Avenue, exhibits a more urban presence than Lombardy or Meadow, while similar in many ways to the other two. This is due in part to its smaller scale and sparser plantings, with its sides unencumbered by bushes or waist-high walls lending to easier access. The triangle functions more as a small city plaza or square as opposed to a park, with VCU students spilling out from the surrounding campus and closely spaced streetlights slowing traffic on Harrison Avenue. And unlike Lombardy or Meadow Parks, Harrison Park leads to the ending of two streets, making the space a more natural destination for pedestrians rather than a widened median.
Check back later for coverage of Richmond’s pocket parks, and let us know if you’ve found one we haven’t!