A park in the center of the city: Sycamore Park #WalkingWednesday

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Despite being only 2 miles from the center of downtown Lansing, this WalkingWednesday through Sycamore Park felt like a trip up north.  The neighborhood is filled with old growth trees, piney woods, and open green space.  It’s within easy walking and biking distance from many other beautiful parks, like Fenner Nature Center, Sycamore Golf Course, and Potter Park Zoo.  Hop on the River Trail and you can quickly access Ingham County Parks, downtown, and MSU.

It’s bordered on the north and the east by water (lots of it right now as the Red Cedar River and Sycamore Creek are very high due to heavy rain).

Looking north towards Potter Park Zoo

Looking north towards Potter Park Zoo

River High Water

Looking east along the Red Cedar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The green space assets of the neighborhood are stunning and on this beautiful June evening, the beauty of the area was on full display.  This area is known for its bird wildlife and is home to a heron rookery and a bald eagle’s nest.  Learn more in this Nature Discovery article.

Sycamore Park Neighborhood Association president Paul Wozniak provided a walking map (my first neighborhood to hand out maps for #WalkingWednesday!) Find our more about the Sycamore Park Neighborhood Association on Facebook.

Sycamore Park walking tour covering a part of every street in the neighborhood.

Sycamore Park walking tour covering a part of every street in the neighborhood.

The neighborhood has many long term residents.  Our tour was a mix of newer and longer term neighbors. Top reasons I heard for choosing Sycamore Park (in no order) were:

  • Proximity to downtown and MSU & convenience to everything
  • Access to the River Trail without crossing any major streets
  • Neighborhood friendliness

Houses are a mix of 1920s – 1940s single family homes with interesting architecture and tons of charm.

Mt. Hope Elementary

Mt. Hope Elementary School

Mt. Hope 4-6 STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math) School sits on the neighborhood’s southern border.  The school playground, basketball courts, and green space add to the recreational opportunities & beauty of the neighborhood.  School leaders and the PTA partner with the neighborhood organization on many events.

Neighbors at one of the welcome signs.  Neighbors care for the planting/weeding of these entryways.

Neighbors at one of the welcome signs. Neighbors care for the planting/weeding of these entryways.

Bordered by both Pennsylvania Ave and Mt. Hope, commercial corridors have an impact on the neighborhood.  Neighbors are happy with the increased commercial activity at the Mt. Hope/Penn intersection with the addition of Central Pharmacy Vacancies still exist on the south side of Mt. Hope and neighbors are hoping for new tenants in those spaces.

Heading south along Pennsylvania Ave.

Heading south along Pennsylvania Ave.

 

Long time local businesses such as Smith Floral continue to provide commercial activity in the area

Looking south across Mt. Hope to Smith Floral

Looking south across Mt. Hope to Smith Floral

 

 

 

 

 

 

We waved to many neighbors enjoying the beautiful weather on their front porch and took a peek into the Little Free Library:

A little house of books

A little house of books

ShubelParkTreesAlongRiver

 

 

 

 

 

 

We headed back to the park for a summer time treat and were all really impressed with the watermelon slicer!

Paul introduces us to the wonders of the watermelon slicer

Paul introduces us to the wonders of the watermelon slicer

Amazing!

Amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for your hospitality and the chance to meet many neighbors and see your beautiful homes. Enjoy the summer in your park in the city!

This #WalkingWednesday was the first attended by our AmeriCorps VISTA members in our Cities of Service Love Your Block program.  Learn more about their work and see their blog post about the Sycamore Park tour at Lansing Love Your Block

 

 

5 thoughts on “A park in the center of the city: Sycamore Park #WalkingWednesday

  1. Paula Harney

    Thanks, Andi, for the wonderful posting and pics. My beloved grandmother and Aunt Agnes lived in that neighborhood many years until their passing. We sold their house to a young, single woman who we hope will also live there a long time. My cousin, Barb, and her family also live there. So, keep up the good work!

  2. Thank you Paula! I’m sure you have many wonderful memories of visiting your Grandmother and Aunt in the neighborhood. Like many people, I’ve passed this neighborhood hundreds of times on Penn or Mt. Hope without ever going through it. It’s a gem in the heart of Lansing!

  3. Brian

    Sorry that we missed it. Thanks for posting so quickly on your blog with great photos. We were hosting guests over last night in our back yard, They remarked on how the neighborhood is so quiet after we sent our children to the school park. Having both a school playground and city playground within our neighborhood is so family friendly.

  4. Anonymous

    My husband and I first moved to 1111 Parkdale in 1979, intending to return to Massachusetts when he finished his Ph.D program at MSU. I (a newly graduated Civil Engineer) was hired by the DNR even before we moved here. I had never lived in such a kind and friendly neighborhood (my Dad moved us around the country and we lived in various “Upscale” neighborhoods) in my life. We would close down Parkdale and have everyone bring a dish to pass; the kids would ride bikes and rollerblades in the middle of the street. I would take the bus downtown to my job in the bad weather and ride my bicycle (pre-Riverwalk) across on Baker and up Washington Avenue. When Richard finally crawled out of MSU, I didn’t want to move to a Land Grant College (he was looking at South Dakota and Iowa) and he decided that there really were a LOT of politics involved in being a college professor, so he ended up working for the Legislature (no politics there) for 23 years. We ended up expecting one more child than we had bedrooms and found a house in triple foreclosure which needed an enormous amount of work on Lindbergh in 1986 and have been there ever since. The neighborhood is still lovely but decidedly different with new people and new priorities (Honest to God, I have seen two people, walking their dogs in front of my house, not noticing or talking to the neighbors, as many of us did and others, still do, watching movies on their iphones ! That is remarkable and also sad, to me ! ) Furthermore, the folks who now live here with children are driving their children to other districts (and only part of the reason is that, despite promises to the contrary, Mt. Hope no longer starts at kindergarten), this has been changed the neighborhood’s dynamics, due to the fact that we are not all at the same PTA meetings and working for common goals; which did change our cohesiveness, to a degree. The many of us who sent our children through the Lansing School District and whose children were on the same soccer teams, etc. were extremely well acquainted with each other and volunteered (without celebrity or titles or “selfies”) to put in both of the fore-mentioned play grounds and the flower gardens. The newest Lansing school superintendent even labelled us “an aging neighborhood.” But, it is still a neighborhood with a vast majority of its inhabitants who are still kind and caring and well educated who all live here, in Sycamore Park, because they CHOSE to live in one of the best neighborhoods in Lansing and in this country !

  5. Suzanne Elms-Barclay

    My husband and I first moved to 1111 Parkdale in 1979, intending to return to Massachusetts when he finished his Ph.D program at MSU. I (a newly graduated Civil Engineer) was hired by the DNR even before we moved here. I had never lived in such a kind and friendly neighborhood (my Dad moved us around the country and we lived in various “Upscale” neighborhoods) in my life. We would close down Parkdale and have everyone bring a dish to pass; the kids would ride bikes and rollerblades in the middle of the street. I would take the bus downtown to my job in the bad weather and ride my bicycle (pre-Riverwalk) across on Baker and up Washington Avenue. When Richard finally crawled out of MSU, I didn’t want to move to a Land Grant College (he was looking at South Dakota and Iowa) and he decided that there really were a LOT of politics involved in being a college professor, so he ended up working for the Legislature (no politics there) for 23 years. We ended up expecting one more child than we had bedrooms and found a house in triple foreclosure which needed an enormous amount of work on Lindbergh in 1986 and have been here ever since. The neighborhood is still lovely but decidedly different with new people and new priorities (Honest to God, I have seen two people, walking their dogs in front of my house, not noticing or talking to the neighbors, as many of us did and others, still do, watching movies on their iphones ! That is remarkable and also sad, to me ! ) Furthermore, many of the folks who now live here with children are driving their children to other districts (and only part of the reason is that, despite promises to the contrary, Mt. Hope no longer starts at kindergarten), this has been integral in changing the neighborhood’s dynamics, even at the simplest level, due to the fact that we are not all at the same PTA meetings and thus not, seemingly, working for common goals; and this difference did impact our neighborhood’s cohesiveness, to a degree. The many of us who sent our children through the Lansing School District and whose children were on the same soccer teams, etc. were extremely well acquainted with each other and volunteered (without celebrity or titles or “selfies”) to put in both of the fore-mentioned play grounds and the flower gardens. But times change; many of us aren’t in any PTA anymore, Toto, and the newest Lansing school superintendent even went so far as to mention to me that we are. in some ways, “an aging neighborhood.” But, it is still a neighborhood with a vast majority of its inhabitants who are the kindest people you will ever meet and who are kind and caring and well educated. I’ve always said that WE who live here, in Sycamore Park, CHOSE to live here, in one of the best neighborhoods in Lansing (and, who knows, maybe in this state and this country !)

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