Published In

Journal of Planning History

Document Type


Publication Date



Landscape architecture -- United States -- History, Urban parks -- New York -- Manhattan -- Social aspects, Public spaces -- Psychological aspects


The role that parks played in Manhattan changed dramatically during the antebellum period. Originally dismissed as unnecessary on an island embraced by rivers, parks became a tool for real estate development and gentrification in the 1830s. By the 1850s, politicians, journalists, and landscape architects believed Central Park could be a social salve for a city with rising crime rates, increasingly visible poverty, and deepening class divisions. While many factors (public health, the psychological need for parks, and property values) would remain the same, the changing social conversation showed how ideas of public space were transforming, in rhetoric if not reality.


This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Planning History. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Planning History (16)2.

© 2017 (SAGE Publications). Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications and can be found online at:



Persistent Identifier