A stone's throw from the row upon row of commercial buildings in Hongqiao Development Zone, Changning District, New Town Central Park is an ideal place for nearby Shanghainese to escape from a day's hard work and return to the happiness of nature.
Opened to the public in 2000, the park covers an area of about 130,000 square meters. In the pursuit of "the harmony between human beings and nature," it features abundant greenery, covered by a total of 115 different kinds of plants and a 52,000-square-meter grassland.
In the center of the park is a man-made lake with a fountain inside. Around the large body of water are winding paths that connect trees, brooks and small hills together.
On a sunny day, at this place - which might be one of the quietest places in central Shanghai - one may stretch out on the lawn with a newspaper, some magazines or a novel, to fully relax himself in the smell of jasmine and roses.
"I like this place," said Zhang Zhen, a 16-year-old student who lives near the park. "I always come here with my classmates after school on our way home. It is such a good place for relaxation and what's more, it's free of charge."
As a matter of fact, such public green space can be found all around Changning. Each has its own characteristic.
For example, a free reading room has been set up in Huashan Greenland, a 39,500-square-meter area of greenery on bustling Huashan Road. The room is also home to photography exhibitions of nearby residents from time to time.
While in Xinjing Park, a place built under the theme of "public sports park," in the early morning, one can always find old people trying out the colorful senior citizen exercises equipments, practicing martial arts or walking on the stone massage path.
By the end of 2003, the district's public green space has reached nearly 3.43 million square meters, or 5.58 square meters per capita.
To organize the large amount of area, the district government has set up a series of methods, which have been proved to be both efficient and effective.
Take Kaiqiao Greenland at the cross of Yan'an Road W. and Kaixuan Road for example. Managed by Huayang Community, where the park is located, it has become not only a popular haunt for nearby residents, but also a well-known stage for various performances.
Every Friday night, hundreds of people, young and old, men and women, will gather in the center of the greenland to practice ballroom dancing.
The community has also signed a contract with Shanghai Farce Troupe to invite famous actors and actresses to give performance in the park from time to time.
"Every month, we try to organize at least one show at the site, which is warmly welcomed by the residents," said Shi Guoqin who works for the community. "A lot of passers-by will be attracted to the park, too."
According to her, like all the other communities in the district, the community recruits laid-off workers to help keep the park in order, which is also an effective way to find those unemployed people a new job.
Some public green space in Changning District:
-- New Town Central Park
No. 2238 Yan'an Road W.
Huashan Greenland Huashan Road, Chunguangfang
Kaiqiao Greenland Yan'an Road W., Kaixuan Road
-- Xinjing Park
No. 455 Tianshan Road W.
Yanhong Greeland Hongqiao Road, Gubei Road
Hebin (lakeside) Park Changning Road, Zhoujiaqiao
(Shanghai Daily June 14, 2004)