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Case Studies 

Stanley Park




Contributed by 
Andrea Winkler
Project for Public Spaces
July 19, 2005
December 14, 2017

A unique urban forest in the middle of Vancouver.

What makes it Great?

Why it doesn't work?

Stanley Park is a unique place, not only for its magnificent trees--like giant fir and cedar--which are unusual for an urban park, but also its variety of activities, which make it one of the top destinations in Vancouver for locals and visitors alike. The park spans 1,000 acres and includes sandy beaches, swimming pools, lakes and stunning vistas from the sea wall. The large expanse of grassland through the park provides an ideal spot for picnickers, and many groups organize outings and sports activities here: family reunions, groups of friends hanging out, or even company picnics.

The array of activities available have inspired nicknames like "Vancouver's playground." Its rolling hills host numerous events throughout the summer, from 'Theatre Under the Stars' to the annual Chihuahua walk-a-thon (thousands of Chihuahuas -- a sight not to be missed!). The park is also home to the Vancouver Public Aquarium and Zoo, nestled among the trees. The large grounds of the zoo are not visible from the road; they unfold into an unexpected animal kingdom. A network of trails lead visitors through the forest along "Lost Lagoon" (a tranquil habitat for many animals and birds that has an almost ethereal quality) to a majestic fountain. Moving along the beachside, there are food kiosks, playgrounds and an outdoor swimming pool that overflows with children in the summertime. Two wonderful restaurants benefit from some of the most spectacular natural settings of any urban park in North America.

Stanley Park is a great lesson in public space real estate: Its best asset is location, location, location. Only minutes from downtown, it is easily accessible by foot, bike and car. A road meanders through the park taking drivers from downtown to the Lions Gate Bridge, which hosts marathon runs in the summer months. The seawall, which circumnavigates the park, extends from Coal Harbour to the West side. The wall is used by pedestrians, bikers and rollerbladers. It's a calming and enjoyable way to commute to work, and a great way to take in the scenery on a Sunday afternoon stroll.

Access & Linkages

Comfort & Image

Uses & Activities


How Light?

How Quick?

How Cheap?

History & Background

Originally used as a military installation for the British and named after Lord Stanley of Preston, the acreage is now protected and remains Canada's largest public-funded park.

Related Links & Sources

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*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.


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