The contemporaneity of Olmsted’s social philosophy: between privatization and surfacization of public urban spaces

Marine Dassé

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La contemporanéité de la philosophie sociale olmstedienne : entreprivatisation et surfacisation des espaces publics urbains
Abstract :
International audience
An outstanding political and social thinker as well as an influential landscape architect of the 19th century, Frederick Law Olmsted is known for designing numerous parks in the United States, the most famous being Central Park. He firmly believed in the spatial necessities of democracy, and strongly advocated equal access to all parks regardless of social class. Today, however, due to neoliberal policies, the evolution of the governance of public spaces has resulted in the emergence of public-private partnerships and hybrid forms of administration that limit full public access. New urban spaces, such as Business Improvement Districts, where associations of non-elected business leaders manage the space that surrounds them, indicate the end of a clear distinction between public and private spheres. Therefore, it is tempting to say that Olmsted’s vision has been ignored. This article addresses the social and democratic consequences of such a shift within the urban planning of public parks and spaces. Its aim is to assess the relevance of Olmsted’s philosophy in an era of privatization of public spaces.
Published : 2014
Document Type : Journal articles
Affiliation : Université Paris Nanterre (UPN)

Citation

Marine Dassé, « The contemporaneity of Olmsted’s social philosophy: between privatization and surfacization of public urban spaces », Cycnos, 2014. URL : https://shs.hal.science/halshs-03122749