Memphis has a long history with urban parks, so it’s fitting that the city has a green space that dwarfs New York City’s 843-acre Central Park.
CityLab tells the story of the 4,500-acre Shelby Farms Park, which opened a 4.1-mile extension to its six-mile long bikeway this summer.
From the 1920s through the 1960s, the land functioned as a penal farm that grew its own food that went back to the prison maintained by the Shelby County Corrections Center. (The county jail still stands just to the north of the park.) The prison/farm model went into disuse in the mid-‘60s, and Shelby County, where Memphis sits, maintained control of the land. While the county opened the site up for public recreation, it never adopted any official management or landscape program.