USA Today ranks Savannah among America’s “best urban green spaces”

Just a few thoughts about yet another media list that Savannah appears on: Best urban green spaces in North America at USA Today.

Here’s the full list:
New Orleans
San Francisco

The piece is by the 10Best Editors, but that’s only nine cities, so the club is a little more exclusive than it at first appears. Savannah is a good bit smaller than all those cities except for Boulder — it’s pretty common to see Savannah on lists like this with much, much larger metros.

From the piece:

Savannah was developed around the idea of green space: The city’s original plan, designed in 1733, called for central open squares for the public to enjoy. The 22 that remain today are a testament to the idea that green space can endure. One of the most impressive examples is Forsyth Park, a 30-acre green expanse in the Historic District. Its large grassy areas act as magnets for people and dogs while Forsyth’s three-tiered, cast-iron fountain is a local landmark.

So that’s not quite right, huh? Forsyth Park is not “one of” the 22 squares, but a separate — and magnificent — space.

The USA Today blurb also gives a fair bit of screen to Skidaway Island State Park, which is beyond the city limits, and the Savannah Botanical Gardens off Eisenhower Drive, which I’ll admit really isn’t on my own radar screen and which is rarely mentioned among the city’s great attractions.

There’s even this line: “Visitors to the Botanical Gardens’ impressive rose garden often grab a bite at nearby Sweet Potatoes, a locally owned restaurant where patrons indulge in fried catfish, corn casserole and collards.”

There are obviously other areas and efforts that could have been cited: Daffin Park, the Arboretum at Armstrong, the ongoing efforts to plant tree lawns, the work of the Savannah Tree Foundation, and on and on.

Savannah’s green spaces — both new and old — are a testament to the rich history of the city’s public life. For 280 years now, Savannah has provided common spaces where people can gather formally or informally.

A few years ago, in a public presentation at Armstrong, pedestrian expert and advocate Dan Burden noted that Savannah could probably do a whole lot more with its squares — make them easier to use for events, reduce unnecessary cost and bureaucracy for community groups, and so forth. That’s certainly an idea worth promoting.

For all the green spaces that work so successfully in the city, we could still do better. In recent years, we’ve seen trees planted on a handful of medians on Abercorn on the Southside, but the arterial streets in the newer parts of town are still pretty depressing compared to the beauty and shade north of Derenne.