Shelby Farms, located in Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, is one of the twenty largest urban parks in the United States. At a size of 4,500 acres (1,800 ha), it covers more than five times the area of Central Park in New York City with 843 acres (341 ha).
Lakes, natural forests, and wetlands provide natural habitats for many smaller species close to an urban metropolitan area. Wildlife can be observed in their natural environment from the many trails in the park. Shelby Farms park is home to a bison herd.
The land that forms Shelby Farms park was derived from property that had been privately owned in the 19th century. In 1825, humanist reformer Frances Wright founded the Nashoba Commune on parts of what is modern-day Shelby Farms. The purpose of the commune was to emancipate slaves by providing education in practical and cultural skills. Remains of a settlement from the late 19th century are still present in the modern-day park.
From 1929 until 1964 Shelby Farms was used as a penal farm associated with the Shelby County jail.
Shelby Farms was opened for recreational purposes in the 1970s. In 2007, a public and private non-profit partnership was established to provide for the daily operation of the park and to plan for its future use.
In 2008, a masterplan was put in place for the redesign of the park. The re-design would provide additional hiking and biking trails as well as more opportunities for boating in a much enlarged Patriot Lake.
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