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The Politics of Open Space Design
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    The park boom of the 1800's gave us Central and Prospect Park in New York, and dozens more. But Los Angeles has no park system; Frederick Law Olmsted's master park was rejected when L.A. was developed. Ten years ago the "Friends of the Los Angeles River" rekindled Olmsted's idea of a 50 mile greenway that connects L.A.'s neighborhoods from the mountains to the sea. Poorer communities now hope for soccer fields and picnic tables, but it's not a done deal. Industrial needs bring in tax dollars and progress has been slow. A while ago, a short stretch of a bike path opened after Mayor Riodaran, an avid cyclist, supported it.

    This report from Laura Sydell brings us the politics of open space and the complexities of bringing different cultural visions for that greenspace can to reality.

    Links & Resources


    Civilizing American Cities : Writings on City Landscapes, by Frederick Law Olmsted

    Eden by Design : The 1930 Olmsted-Bartholomew Regional Plan for Los Angeles, by Greg Hise (Editor), William F. Deverell, Laurie Olin

    The Los Angeles River: Its Life, Death, and Possible Rebirth (Creating the North American Landscape), by Blake Gumprecht

    The Reluctant Metropolis: The Politics of Urban Growth in Los Angeles, by William Fulton

    The Clearing In The Distance: Frederich Law Olmsted An America In The 19th Century, by Witold Rybczynski - paperback July 2000

    City Life: Urban Expectations In A New World, by Witold Rybczynski - hard cover Sept 1995

    Web sites:

    A Web site created by the Los Angeles school district that gives a history of the river:

    Friends of the Los Angeles River:

    Urban Parks Institute: