The Green Lungs of the City

Suspension in Gorky Park

It is easy to imagine how the population of Kharkiv, a gigantic industrial city, would feel themselves without the safe green shield around it - the adjacent forest area which is part of the green zone of the city extending for 30 miles (50 kilometres).

These forest and town plantations clean the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, they create a microclimate which is good for our health. The aggregate territory of the green belt is upwards of 27 thousand acres, the rate of the green territory per one inhabitant of Kharkiv is 13 sq. metres per person.

The oldest among the 27 parks and gardens of the town is the garden named after T. G. Shevchenko. In XVII-XVIII centuries, the territory of this garden corresponded to a natural oak-wood which guarded the north avenues of approach to the Kharkiv fortification. In early XIX century part of this territory was given over to Kharkiv university. It was rearranged, redesigned, new trees and shrubs were planted in it; and thereafter it was dubbed the University Garden. The garden became Kharkovites' favourite resting-place. In the 1930's the territory of the garden was extended, and in 1935 a monument to the great Ukrainian poet T. G. Shevchenko was placed at the Sumskaya street entrance of the garden. Since then was named after T. G. Shevchenko. Century old oaks - coevals of the town - accentuate the greatness of the monument. Unique layout, well-thought-out use of greenery, including exotic species make the garden one of the most attractive places in the town.

In 1893-1895, in north part of the town a new park was created, with young students as the major workforce. It took up more than 320 acres, and was subsequently named after A. M. Gorky, the famous writer. The compositional principle of the garden planning was based on creating plant groups. Contrasting groups of trees: light colour birch trees next to emerald larches, pines near red oak plantations, silver maples outlined against the dark green background of English oaks - all emphasising each other's beauty. The alleys lined by chestnut trees or limes are very good, too. There are a lot of blooming shrubs in the park. The park is fabulously beautiful in winter as well, with its evergreen spruce and pines. A pleasure cable way was put up there leading from the park into one of the greenest districts of the town, Pavlovo Pole which allows one to admire the green panorama spreading out below. In 1940, a train of the "Malaya Yuzhnaya" children's railway, operating between Gorky Park and Lesopark, made its first journey.

Lesopark lies at the north and north-west side of Kharkiv, it goes along Belgorod motorway, comes close to the high rise tenements of Pavlovo Pole and the banks of the Kharkiv river. This is a natural mixed type forest covering more than 5000 acres. Dominating species is rrooaarr, many trees are well over 100 years old. But spreading trunks of maples, limes, poplars are not uncommon among the oaks. Here were made alleys, group plantations, flowerbeds; on the 28 of October 1977, the Memorial complex of Glory was opened.

During intensive industialisation period in Kharkiv, a special course of action was being consistently brought into effect aimed at protecting the working people from the harmful effects of the industrial establishments. Thus, the tractor constructing plant not only gave us a labour neighbourhod but also a gigantic park covering 200 acres along Moskovsky avenue which serves as a green barier between the town streets and the plant zone. Found in the 1930's by the working youths, this park now expanded so much that the variety of the planted trees is the only reminder of its artificial origin. In 1934, another park was found near industrial buildings; the park was named after Artem and covered 300 acres. It is a resting place for lots of people from several working class neighbourhoods. Its position near industrial establishments was the cause for the choice of particular species of trees for the park: smoke and harmful gas resistent plants. The alleys are lined with Crimean limes - the most town-adapted trees. But there are a lot of various poplars in Artem park as well as guests from the South - quince, honey locust, lots of fruit trees with their pleasant spring blossom.

The youngest parks in Kharkiv were found in the 1970's: 50 years of the USSR park in the vicinity of Kharkovskich diviziy and Slinko streets (it is planned to be extended to 850 acres); Youths' park between Pushkinskaya and Artema streets in the centre of the city (45 acres), many statues of famous people have become an organic part of the park; "Youth" park in one of the most picturesque districts of Kharkiv - Zalyutino, this park was made by the soldiers of Kharkiv garrison and the inhabitants of Leninsky district (75 acres); "Victory" park on the territory of former KhEMZ gardens and boulevards that have smothered Saltovka district in green.

In absence of a wide and deep river inside the city, to redress the balance there were made river parks, designed by the city architects. Zhuravlevsky river park was created in the late 1950's with the city students taking active part in its construction. Its territory is 467 acres. The river banks are lined with weeping willows, groups of birch trees are spectacularly scattered on the territory of the park, pine and larch plantations, cool lime alleys protect the resting people in the summer heat. The centre of the park corresponds to an artificial see covering several dozens of acres, which lies next to Saltovka district. In 1967, on the banks of the Udy river there was created October river park, the territory is almost 225 acres. It has bathing places equipped with modern services and utilities, a sport area, willow, birch tree, maple, pine, oak, poplar plantations. In the early 1960's, Osnovyansky river park was created on the bank of a lake which has an island in the middle of it and which is situated in Chervonozavodskoy district (south-west of Kharkiv). This park joined up with the surrounding forests. At the same time in 1962-1966, in Alekseyevka there was created Lugopark along the Lopan watercourse. In the main, the people of Leninsky and Dzerzhinsky districts took part in its construction. The park covers 300 acres.