In the second half of the nineteenth century, state and municipal governments oversaw the explosive growth of public parks, squares, and gardens throughout the city of Paris. In Planning the Greenspaces of Nineteenth-Century Paris, Richard S. Hopkins skillfully weaves together social and cultural history to argue that the expansion of these greenspaces served as more than simple urban embellishment. Rather, they provided an essential component of the Second Empire’s efforts to transform and revitalize France’s capital city, and their development continued well into the Third Republic.
Hopkins brings a new dimension to the study of nineteenth-century Parisian urbanism by considering the parks and squares of Paris from multiple perspectives: the reformers who advocated for them, the planners who constructed them, the workers who maintained them, and the neighborhood residents who used them. As public areas over which private citizens felt a high degree of ownership, these spaces offered a unique opportunity for collaboration between city officials and residents. Hopkins examines the national and municipal goals for the greenspaces, their intended contributions to public health, and the roles of park service employees and neighborhood groups in their ongoing centrality to Parisian life.
Hopkins’s study moves deftly from the aspirations of the political authorities to the ways in which new public spaces contributed to community-building and neighborhood identity. Drawing on extensive archival research, he depicts a greenspace design and development process that illustrates the dynamic relationship between citizens and city.
RICHARD S. HOPKINS is assistant professor of history at Widener University.
Praise for Planning the Greenspaces of Nineteenth-Century Paris
“Planning the Greenspaces is a fascinating read and a welcome addition to the scholarship on Paris and on urban greenspaces that could work well as a supplemental text in an upper-division course on Paris or France.”—American Historical Review
“This concise and elegant book reflects rigorous archival research rendered in readable prose. . . . Geographers will appreciate the author's attention throughout to scale as an analytic tool, and his sustained analysis of the social production of urban space through a dialectic of design and use.”—Journal of Historical Geography
“Richard S. Hopkins’s book Planning the Greenspaces of Nineteenth-Century Paris serves as an important reminder that the development of acres of parks and gardens were also central to the project of creating a modern European capital. . . . [An] insightful and enjoyable text.”—Canadian Journal of History