At 170 years old, City Park in the heart of New Orleans includes 1,300 acres of green space, water features, walking trails, woodlands (including the world’s largest conglomeration of live oaks), and historic and newly-built structures, which make it a popular attraction to both residents and visitors alike. These structures and spaces include museums, a sculpture garden, golf courses, tennis courts, 2 stadiums, an amusement park, Storyland, and event venues.
In 2022, the City Park Conservancy, a non-profit organization, was put in charge of the day-to-day management of City Park. This new organization is spearheading a new, 100-year master plan renovation, which is estimated to take 18 months at a cost of $200 million. The City Park Conservancy chose a landscape architectural firm – Michael Van Valkenburg Associates, Inc. (MVVA), out of New York to create and ultimately do the project.
Over the next 18 months, MVVA will hold public forums to get feedback from the community as the plan comes together. The new master plan renovation will address acreage above I-610, which includes two golf courses and the Wisner Tract. Adding more public restrooms and upgrading the existing ones, enhancing the walking trails for ease of use, and increasing public safety are also goals of the renovation.
Working a natural plan into the existing land is also one of the results that city leaders would like to see to make City Park an asset to the overall flood control plan of the city of New Orleans.
“Parks are meant to be resilient. They are meant to be a green sponge,” said City Park CEO, Cara Lambright. “We have never had a look at what City Park could do for us in that regard. We need to talk to our community about how we can create something beautiful that is also resilient.”
This is a process which is being addressed by MVVA to involve an arborist to create a tree plan, which includes creating an inventory and assessing the usage of the undeveloped parts of the park.
This part, called the Wisner Tract, is enjoyed by residents and visitors alike with a tree swing and 90 acres dedicated as a “Passive Recreation” area.
Previous renovations and additions in the last 20 years included the new Louisiana Children’s Museum, a newly-enclosed courtyard at the New Orleans Museum of Art, and improvement of the maintenace of the green spaces and woodlands.
Before Hurricane Katrina, City Park underwent a massive, master plan renovation focusing on projects, such as the miniature golf course, tennis courts and Great Lawn.