Located within ten minutes’ drive of Nairobi’s Central Business District, City Park is the heart and lungs of the Kenyan capital. Its 60+ hectares of green space encompass, in addition to botanic gardens and historical landmarks, one of only a few remaining intact portions of the rich indigenous forest that once extended over much of greater Nairobi – and well beyond.
The park is managed by the City Council of Nairobi and has been gazetted as a National Monument by the National Museums of Kenya. The Friends of City Park are a voluntary group of residents that work to ensure the perpetuity of the park and mobilize resources that are needed for City Park to be revived – as a national treasure of enormous civic pride, and benefit to all.
Forest and other biodiversity
With National Museum scientists the Friends were able to identify more that 998 species from the park. This is significant given the small size of the park and underlines how important it is as a resource for conservation and of public awareness around biodiversity.
The tiny, evergreen upland forest of City Park is home to troops of Skykes Monkeys, Silvery-cheeked Hornbills and hundreds of beautiful butterflies. This forest is the most precious natural resource currently protected in City Park and a true treasure for the people of Nairobi.
There are several historical sites in the park, including Catholic, Anglican, Jewish and World War I and World War II veterans’ cemeteries. Here the assassinated freedom fighter and socialist Pio Gama Pinto is buried, as is Kenya’s second Vice-President Joseph Murumbi. A Murumbi Memorial Garden has been established, to exhibit some of his collection of sculptures.
The famous Bandstand on the Park’s Central Lawn has been the setting for numerous historic outdoor performances and diplomatic receptions. Other amenities, such as the Bowling Green (now an outdoor restaurant) and the Maze, located in the southeastern corner of the park, affectionately known as Mtego wa Panya (the ‘Rat-Trap’), attest to the Park’s long history as a focal point for public recreation.