A park through the ages
Although they feel like they have been here forever, public parks are a rather modern invention. In this episode, Alice Landin takes us through the early history of parks and the struggles of control and power that have come with them.
Throughout history, parks have undergone many changes. The earliest parks can be traced back to ancient Persia, where enclosed gardens were built alongside palaces and used as hunting grounds and sanctuaries for the wealthy.
These gardens became models for Renaissance villas in Europe and were used for hunting, gardening, and entertaining by the European elite. It wasn’t until the 19th century, when cities were rapidly growing due to industrialization and overcrowding, that public parks became a reality.
Dr. Catharine Ward Thompson, Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA), shares how the conception of parks has changed through time.
Alice discusses how the idea of “rational recreation” led to the creation of the first public parks for the benefit of the working class and the welfare of society. We discuss with Paul Rabbitts, Author, Parks Historian and Public Speaker, how the success of the first European parks came about, and how they inspired a new generation of urban green worldwide.
However, creating new public spaces came at a price. The creation of iconic parks like Central Park came about with the displacement of local communities, and at times, violence. We hear new perspectives from Michael Boland, Director of the Presidio Trust, on the nuances of historic public parks.
Join Alice on a journey through time as she uncovers the evolution of urban green spaces and the people and organizations that continue to maintain and improve them today.
You can find historic images of Birkenhead Park here
Follow Dr. Catharine Ward Thompson’s work at the University of Edinburg.
Follow Paul Rabbitt’s work and new book releases.
Follow Michael Boland’s work at the Presidio Trust.
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