Urban parks such as New York City's Central Park provide vital public spaces where city dwellers of all races and classes can mingle safely while enjoying a variety of recreations. By coming together in these relaxed settings, different groups become comfortable with each other, thereby strengthening their communities and the democratic fabric of society. But just the opposite happens when, by design or in ignorance, parks are made inhospitable to certain groups of people.
This pathfinding book argues that cultural diversity should be a key goal in designing and maintaining urban parks. Using case studies of New York City's Prospect Park, Orchard Beach in Pelham Bay Park, and Jacob Riis Park in the Gateway National Recreation Area, as well as New York's Ellis Island Bridge Proposal and Philadelphia's Independence National Historical Park, the authors identify specific ways to promote, maintain, and manage cultural diversity in urban parks. They also uncover the factors that can limit park use, including historical interpretive materials that ignore the contributions of different ethnic groups, high entrance or access fees, park usage rules that restrict ethnic activities, and park "restorations" that focus only on historical or aesthetic values. With the wealth of data in this book, urban planners, park professionals, and all concerned citizens will have the tools to create and maintain public parks that serve the needs and interests of all the public.
SETHA LOW is Professor of Environmental Psychology and Anthropology and Director of the Public Space Research Group at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. DANA TAPLIN is Codirector of the Public Space Research Group at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, as well as Adjunct Professor of Environmental Studies at Pace University and Visiting Assistant Professor of Interior Design at the Pratt Institute. SUZANNE SCHELD is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at California State University, Northridge.
Acknowledgments Chapter 1. The Cultural Life of Large Urban Spaces Chapter 2. Urban Parks: History and Social Context Chapter 3. Prospect Park: Diversity at Risk Chapter 4. The Ellis Island Bridge Proposal: Cultural Values, Park Access, and Economics Chapter 5. Jacob Riis Park: Conflicts in the Use of a Historical Landscape Chapter 6. Orchard Beach in Pelham Bay Park: Parks and Symbolic Expression Chapter 7. Independence National Historical Park: Recapturing Erased Histories Chapter 8. Anthropological Methods for Assessing Cultural Values Chapter 9. Conclusion: Lessons on Culture and Diversity Notes References Cited Index