La Paz has its Central Park

La Paz is located not far from Titicaca lake (12 000 feet, 3 660 meters). “Nuestra Señora de La Paz” is the capital city of Bolivia. Second most populated city of the country, behind Santa Cruz, it counts one million inhabitants.

By the late 1990’s, the situation of La Paz was terrible. Poverty, social exclusion, loss of competitiviness went with a bad national economy.

In the early 2000’s, the municipality of La Paz made institutional changes to improve regional functioning.

Following this, local authorithy decided to launch an urban revitalization program (Programa de Revitalization urbana, PRU) with two main purposes :

  • Make credible and ensure democratic viability of the new political system.
  • Improve living conditions of La Paz area inhabitants.

La Paz topographical conditions, altitude, rocky, steep and arid soil, forced the municipality to centralise school, churches, administrative offices, roads and economic areas in the city center.

As a result, traffic jam became bigger. Urban density increased. Ground got weaker because of green scarcity. Formal businesses were relocated outside the city.

The urban revitalization program aimed at stopping the process of city center deterioration throught different projects.

In 2001, La Paz authority launched an international request for proposal to create a vast central urban park. This project had to revitalize a damaged area of the capital city.

urban central park in La paz

Urban central park in La Paz in 2009, Bolivia (photo by Guille)

The park (40 acres, hectares) protected soil becoming a permeable zone enabling absorption of rainwater and preventing from erosion. Environmental quality and reforestation have improved  since then.

Nowadays, it has become a crucial living space where population can chill out, entertain, exchange and blossom.

For this purpose, playgrounds, field sports and entertaining areas for old people have been planned. Outdoor theater renovation is in process. Local craft is promoted with Camacho market. Artists can perform on the adobe dome stage.

Touristic aspect is not forgotten with a walkway dominating the city.

This public area is also used to sensitize population to environ issues and let them express their creativity through thematic workshop. Those initiatives converge to life conditions improvement.

Interamerican bank of development financed La Paz municipality’s projects up to 28,5 million dollars.

When I was there in 2007, none public transport was going to the park. Its access was limited but it provided already a breath of fresh air in this messy and asphyxiated city center.

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