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Open Access 'The Lungs of the City': Green Space, Public Health and Bodily Metaphor in the Landscape of Urban Park History

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New machinery, factory systems and a burgeoning population made the nineteenth century the era of the city. It also represented the coming of age of the city park. Across Europe and North America, elite spaces were opened to public access and new areas dedicated as 'parks for the people.' This paper offers a brief tour of green spaces across three iconic metropolitan sites - London, Paris and New York - to consider how the axioms of recreation, industrial modernity and public health operated in specific urban contexts. Of particular note is the fact that park planners embraced an holistic vision, often articulated via bodily metaphors, that incorporated both social and environmental aspects: thus behind apparently nostalgic visions for a pre-industrial bucolic greenery lay irrefutably modern approaches to urban planning that presaged twenty and twenty-first century holistic experiments in garden cities and 'living homes.' Also central to this study is the idea of the park as a liminal space and an eminently readable landscape: an evolving site of translation, negotiation and transformatioFn that highlights the fertile ground of cross-disciplinary study and the benefits of a complex ecological history that involves close examination of place, action and imagery.

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Keywords: Parks; city; gardens; medicine; public health

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • Environment and History is an interdisciplinary journal which aims to bring scholars in the humanities and biological sciences closer together, with the deliberate intention of constructing long and well-founded perspectives on present day environmental problems.

    Environment and History has a Journal Impact Factor (2019) of 0.698. 5 Year Impact Factor: 0.806.
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