Central Park: Black Bodies Green Spaces, White Minds

By JPB Fellow Jennifer D. Roberts

The historical and contemporary use of white privilege for the exclusion of black bodies from green spaces in the United States

Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture, may not have envisioned black bodies, like Christian Cooper, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, or Ahmaud Arbery, enjoying a leisure day in New York City’s bucolic Central Park when he designed the space in 1857 to allow people “access to fresh air and sunlight”. While Olmstead embodied egalitarianism in his approach and believed “that common green space must always be accessible to all citizens”, the idea of “all citizens” was, and is still not, politically, socially or economically inclusive. Read the complete essay.