Thursday, September 24, 2009

Patterson Park and the Neighborhood

I feel like Patterson Park, adjacent to it Eastern Ave. , as well as surrounding areas represent some of “the open city” ideals and have a great potential to be a successful open city space.

Eastern Avenue area is a mixed-use and multi-ethnical part of the city. It is a very diverse neighborhood with Latino, Greek, Polish, and Ukrainian subcultures, which is also the same for the Highlandtown further to the east. In addition to multicultural aspect to the area there is a mixture of residential, business and institutional places such as Ukrainian church across the Patterson Park and a Youth Center near it. This creates a unique experience of multiple cultures in a small space and since there is no feeling of exclusion or separation, this space is very inviting.

Last year I walked from the Inner Harbor to this area to buy a couple things from a Polish store. I ended up walking into three Polish and one Greek store, which was a great experience of getting a feel for two different cultures in a matter of couple hours. Small family grocery stores were very welcoming and people in there were very friendly. I was offered samples of “the best Polish sausages” and other ethnic foods and found out one of the owner’s views on the current international relations of Eastern European countries. This kinds of experiences and interactions add variety to the everyday routine but, unfortunately, are absent in the Bolton Hill area where I live.

Ideally, Patterson Park as a park by itself is an open city space, but in the context of its neighborhood and some of the events that are being held there, it acts as an extension to the multi-ethnical aspect of the area. Many ethnic festivals, dance events and other activities are being held there, which engage the public in interaction and cultural experiences.

According to Young, "persons and groups interact within a space they all experience themselves as belonging to, but without those interactions dissolving into unity of commonness." This area is a great example of an open city where groups of people based on their ethnicity live together, except difference; mix to a certain degree and, in the same time keep own identity but, definitely, interact and stay open to everyone.

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