Politics of Park Design

"At Berkeley I explored the class dominance of public parks....  A sociological approach allowed me to study the role of parks in American cities in an original way by including social structure.  Rather than stopping my analysis with a physical description of park designs as an art historian might have done, I also asked what social groups promoted each design, who was intended to benefit, who benefited in practice, and what happened to the park once it was built and used.  This approach (sometimes called genealogical) allows one to understand design as a complex social process." (Galen Cranz, 2016).  

In Politics of Park Design (1982), Cranz identified four eras of park design: the Pleasure Ground (1850-1900), the Reform Park (1900-1930), the Recreation Facility (1930-1965), and the Open Space System (1965-).  In a later article, co-written with Michael Boland, Cranz identifies a fifth model of urban parks, the Sustainable Park (beginning in approximately 1990). Examples of all five park eras are below.