Pocket parks, also known as minipark or vest-pocket parks, are urban open space at
the very small scale. Usually only a few house lots in size or smaller, pocket parks can
be tucked into and scattered throughout the urban fabric where they serve the immediately local population.
Pocket parks can be urban, suburban or rural, and can be on public or private land. Although they are too small for physical activities, pocket parks provide greenery, a place to sit outdoors, and sometimes a children’s playground. They may be created around a monument, historic marker or art project.
In highly urbanized areas, particularly downtowns where land is very expensive, pocket parks are the only option for creating new public spaces without large-scale redevelopment. In inner-city areas, pocket parks are often part of urban regeneration plans and provide areas where wildlife such as birds can establish a foothold. Unlike larger parks, pocket parks are sometimes designed to be fenced and locked when not in use.
These diminutive parks tend to act as scaled-down neighborhood parks, but still often
try to meet a variety of needs. Functions can include small event space, play areas for
children, spaces for relaxing or meeting friends, taking lunch breaks. etc. They can be
a refuge from the bustle of surrounding urban life and offer opportunities for rest and relaxation. However, because space is restricted and user needs are both diverse and vary throughout the day, conflicts can sometimes arise between different groups. Thus, in organizing pocket parks, designers must often work out a delicate balancing act so
that all groups can use the space in peaceful co-existence.
One of the unique and exciting characteristics of pocket parks is that they may be created out of vacant lots or otherwise forgotten spaces. Many pocket parks are the result of community groups, private entities or foundations reclaiming these spaces for the benefit of the local neighborhood. Unfortunately, they are sometimes easier to create than to maintain because without functional design, community support, use and maintenance, they may fall into disrepair.
The ecological functions of pocket parks are probably limited as they are typically designed for heavy use by people and because they are typically located in dense urban
areas. However, they do present opportunities for increasing the amount of permeable
surfaces throughout the city and could also function as patches for some animals,