One People with One Lung

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During the nineteenth century, American’s were divided more deeply by class due to rapid industrialization. The upper classes began seperating themselves physically and culturally from the lower classes, especailly in the city where bourgeois attitues flourished. This separation was seen in theaters, concerts, parks and even through language by referring to their profession differently – instead of calling themsevles “merchants” or “iron manufacturers, they embodied the title of “business men”.

Federick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park and Prospect Park as well as other prominent parks in New York City saw that as an issue. As a result, the design of Central Park reflects Olmsted’s social consciousness and commitment to egalitarian ideals. Influenced by Downing (Olmsted’s mentor) and his own observations of social class in England, China and the American South, Olmsted believed that common green space must always be equally accessible to all citizens. Therefore, Central Park and his other parks are vechicles to eradicate divides between social classes, he believed that the landscape could be the mediator between different social classes and different races. Olmsted is also known as the grandaddy of American landscaping and coining the term “Lung of the City” as the park he creates helps bring the city to life.

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