With more than 100 Topeka parks to choose from, it would be hard to visit every one. We here at Unwind have seen them all, and we'll profile a new park each week. From large parks with diverse activities, to tiny parks that you may not have even known existed.
Hughes Park occupies one city block between SW Orleans, Parkview, 7th and 8th streets, (THAD ALLTON/UNWIND)

Hughes Park

October 26, 2009

Hughes Park, 725 SW Orleans, is a unique neighborhood park, which occupies one city block between SW Orleans, Parkview, 7th and 8th streets, is a destination for tennis players and youngsters of all ages and physical abilities. Tennis remains a staple, with five courts beckoning players of all skill levels. One court has a concrete wall for solo stars and a basketball backboard. Along the park's west side is the play-for-all accessible playground, which is perfect for parties with its open-air shelter, picnic tables and grill. Rock-edged terraces topped by still-young trees grace the approach to the playground, which is brightened by a row of rose bushes in the summer.

More Info: http://unwind.topeka.net/park/hughes

MacLennan Park Trails & Ponds at Cedar Crest features three fishing ponds. (THAD ALLTON/UNWIND)

MacLennan Park

October 5, 2009

MacLennan Park Trails & Ponds at Cedar Crest, S.W. Fairlawn and Cedar Crest Drive, is a 244-acre park is situated along the hills overlooking the Kansas River near Cedar Crest, the governor's mansion. The park features an interpretive nature trail, three fishing ponds, an ice-skating pond and jogging/bike trails through woodlands and meadows (with native plants and wildflowers). A 2.7-mile crushed limestone trail can be accessed from the north parking lot on the west side of the mansion or from the south parking lot on SW 6th just west of Fairlawn.


Veteran's Park is located near the Kansas Ave. Bridge. (THAD ALLTON/UNWIND)

Veteran's Park

September 28, 2009

Hugging the north end of the Kansas Avenue Bridge, Veteran's Park, NE Laurent & NE Quincy, has a memorial plaque flanked by flag poles in a flower bed, plus some playground equipment on the west side (which is split by a parking lot), and a basketball court on the larger east side.

Willow Park is located jsut north of St. Francis Health Center. (THAD ALLTON/UNWIND)

Willow Park

September 21, 2009

Located at 1800 SW 6th, Willow Park is a sharply triangular-shaped park that separates SW Willow from 6th Street as they converge from Garfield on the east to Lindenwood on the west. Located across from St. Francis Health Center, Willow is the perfect place to relax or read a book in the shade of mature trees. There are numerous benches and picnic tables, plus swings (including a tire swing), a merry-go-round and a jungle gym for youngsters.

Chesney Park is west of the Kansas Expocentre. (THAD ALLTON/UNWIND)

Chesney Park

September 15, 2009

Located at 1823 SW Clay, three blocks west of the Kansas Expocentre between 18th and 19th streets, this park is ready for activity with a small skateboard park and a basketball court. Youngsters will enjoy a variety of playground equipment, including swings and teeter-totters. There are plenty of picnic tables -- some beneath an open-air shelter -- plus a BBQ grill, a water fountain and a gazebo. Large, mature trees offer lots of shade.


Boswell Square preserves the city block occupied by Boswell Junior High from 1922 to 1980. (THAD ALLTON/UNWIND)

Boswell Square

September 8, 2009

Boswell Square, at SW 14th and SW Boswell, preserves the city block occupied by Boswell Junior High from 1922 to 1980. A nicely landscaped brick walk features the names of several former Boswell students and leads to the Boswell Neighborhood Wall of Fame, where the building's 1922 date stone is displayed.

A gazebo, modern playground equipment, basketball courts and shaded benches highlight the park's amenities, while a large open field with a backstop is perfect for ball games.


The Aaron Douglas Mural celebrates the life of the Topeka-born muralist, illustrator and scholar. (THAD ALLTON/UNWIND)

Aaron Douglas

August 14, 2009

Located at 12th and Lane, the Aaron Douglas Mural celebrates the life of the Topeka-born muralist, illustrator and scholar. Painted on a large wall by local high school and college students and residents of Topeka's Tennessee Town neighborhood, the mural is a reproduction of one of four panels of "Aspects of Negro Life: From Slavery Through Reconstruction" that Douglas completed in 1934 for the 135th Street Branch of the New York Public Library (now the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture).

The mural, dedicated on May 23, 2005, was a project of the Central Topeka TurnAround Team and was constructed on land donated by Dillons Stores adjacent to one of its stores. The painting of the mural, which is double the size of the original, was overseen by Kansas artist David Lowenstein, with the help of artist Stan Herd.

Douglas (1899-1979) was born in Topeka and graduated from Topeka High School in 1917. He attended the University of Nebraska from 1918-1922, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. He taught school in the Kansas City Area for several years, then moved to New York City to study under a master artist. He became known as the "Dean of African-American painters" and as the "official" artist and muralist during the Harlem Renaissance.