Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Elizabeth Park: A Review

Posted by on Tue, May 10, 2011 at 6:09 AM

In Short:

Location: Just off of Buchanan where 11th Avenue and Arthur split
Size of Park: Very small
Crowds: None
Approximate Age of Patrons: Just me
Topics of Conversation: "No, you stay in the car!"
Stray Dogs Seen: None, but neighborhood dogs barked at us
Types of Vehicles in Parking Lots: n/a
Perceived Safety: Medium
Number of Gunshots Heard: None
Dog Friendliness: Fine, I guess, but it would be weird to take your dog from a yard to this
Number of pitbulls sighted: One, in my car
Accessibility: Okay
Incorporation of Local History: None
Recommended Patrons: Pick-up basketballers, people who want to recreate the bow scene from Titanic on the park sign.

I think those buildings in the background sum up how the neighborhood is changing.
  • I think those buildings in the background sum up how the neighborhood is changing.
I drove to the park, taking a route from Clarksville Pike to Buchanan. From that direction, it appears to be in a solid working-class neighborhood with a small but busy business section. Even on a Sunday morning, people were strolling around and kids were out playing in their yards and riding their bikes. And, of course, a ton of people were going to or already at church.

But when I got to the park, and could really take a look at the housing stock, I realized this neighborhood is going to look really different in a decade. First, a lot of the existing housing stock is cute as hell. Right across the street from the park, a woman was sweeping her sidewalk in front of the most charming tiny Victorian. (House, that is.) And a lot of the older homes look a lot like homes in the parts of East Nashville that are now being inundated with hipsters.

Plus I noticed that the new stuff that's going in there is incredibly nice, similar to the new stuff in Hope Garden (which is just to the southeast). And, indeed, when I went down Arthur after reviewing the park, I noted that the neighborhood is gentrifying from that direction. Small wonder. You can see downtown from the park. That's very convenient real estate, and it's very unlikely to stay working class.

The park itself is small, but nice. I saw some trash along the edge of the basketball court, but I didn't see a trash can and it was piled in such a way that made me think, well, it's littering, but it's courteous littering. It didn't feel like the park had been trashed, just that it needed a garbage can.

There's a large building in the park, which I assume is some type of community center, but it wasn't open. And the park, for as small as it is, has some really nice green space with big trees. It's very lovely, if not very remarkable.

Oh, but there was one really cool feature. You know how often ramps are kind of stuck on things — like, "Fine, you can come in here, but we'll make it accessible in the ugliest way we can manage, so that everyone knows you freaks ruin pretty things with your existence"?

See? Isnt that nice? Probably too old to be ADA compliant, but still, nice.
  • See? Isn't that nice? Probably too old to be ADA compliant, but still, nice.
At Elizabeth Park, the ramp that takes you down into the basketball court is incorporated into the architecture of the steps in such an elegant way that it really took me aback. Someone really gave it some aesthetic thought — how can we make the ramp feel like a natural part of the park?

I like moments when I'm at Nashville parks — the kind where I get a sense that someone thought, "What will differentiate this space from an empty lot?" Not all our parks have that. But when they do, and it's a nicely done moment like this ramp, it just pleases me.

So, anyway, I wouldn't say that Elizabeth Park is a go-to park if you're not already living in the neighborhood. But I would say that, if you are an architect, it would behoove you to go see that ramp and appreciate how nicely done it is — how well it's integrated into the steps and the architecture of the park.

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