Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Urban Parks Essay -- New Urban Landscape

Like most Americans, I expect to find in every city, every town, even in every village in the country, an outdoor recreation area or what is usually called a park; and I am seldom disappointed. No matter how new and unfinished a town may be, or however old and poor, I know that it will contain, wedged in among the crowded blocks of buildings, a rectangular space with grass and trees and meandering paths and perhaps a bandstand or a flagpole. --John B. Jackson, â€Å"The Past and Future Park† in Denatured Visions    Urban parks are defined in their comparative and contrastive relationships to the urban environments surrounding them. Although frequently conceptualized as natural landscapes, the physical and social uses of parks give proof to their inherently cultural â€Å"nature.† For the purpose of this paper, I will use the term â€Å"culture† to refer to human implemented social objects and actions; nature, then, as a written word and a concept circulated in culture, becomes a cultural construction. The idea of â€Å"nature† or â€Å"natural,† I will attempt to argue, refers to a certain set of cultural concepts as constructed through a discourse that is centered away from humans and characterized by irrationality, purity, and vitality. Differently stated, nature functions as a cultural construct of anti-culture, providing an escape from the confines of culture in the sense of civilization, but does not entirely evade the conceptual framework inherent to the social, discursive formation of human ideas. This intermingling relationship between nature and culture is well illustrated in the example of urban parks. Parks are constructed as natural environments but literally and figuratively constructed by human cultural proc... ...el, B. and Cecil D. Elliott. Designing America: Creating Urban Identity. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1994. Groth, Paul. â€Å"Vernacular Parks.† Wrede and Adams 135-137. Jackson, John B. â€Å"The Past and Future Park.† Wrede and Adams 129-134 Peck, Robert McCraken. â€Å"The Museum that Never Was.† Natural History July 1994: 62-7. Platt, Rutherford H. â€Å"Conclusion† in The Ecological City, Rutherford H. Platt, Rowan A. Rowntree and Pamela C. Muick, eds. Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1994. Schultz, Stanley K. Constructing Urban Culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989. Schuyler, David. The New Urban Landscape. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986. Wrede, Stuart and William Howard Adams, eds. Denatured Visions: Landscape and Culture in the Twentieth Century. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1991.

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