Changes of Attitude towards Environment Seen from Urban Development in the U.S.
to the importance of urban development philosophy, ANBOUND has proposed the
concept of Pedestrian-Oriented Development (POD). This is an urban space and
development strategy that puts the emphasis on pedestrians and
focuses on promoting environmental dignity rather than eroding it. However, in
reality, it is often challenging to have the best of both worlds between environmental
protection and economic development. From the perspective of the global history
of urban development, the history of environmental development is also part of
urban development. In this case, the United States gives us a glimpse of the
role of environmental issues in the process of urban development.
development in the United States is accompanied by a change from pollution
to the protection of the environment. Environmental historian David
Stradling noted that, throughout the 19th century, Americans linked all the
positive changes brought about by smog and coal, namely production, prosperity,
and progress. For many urban dwellers relying on coals, the smog was like a
banner of civilization, rising from factory chimneys, locomotives and
steamships. Behind such optimism lied the heavy pollution in many cities.
expansion of cities sometimes knows no boundaries. The power of capital expands
rapidly, and industrialization brings heavy pollution. Capitalists have made
great profits, but industrial workers and urban poor suffer misfortunes,
especially the after-effects of environmental pollution. The United States is
no exception. At the beginning of the founding of the country Jefferson,
one of the founding fathers of the United States, advocated leaving dirty
cities in Europe and making the soot-shrouded world of the country into a clean
and fresh agricultural land. Yet, things did not turn out to be the way he
imagined them to be.
instance, Pittsburg the industrial city has been described as “hell with
the lid taken off”, for its ceaseless coal smog. Chicago on the other hand, was
notorious as well for its smoke and dust, along with the harsh smell, sewage,
and noise of the abattoirs that went hand in hand with the bustling city.
people in an open society did not merely place their focus on industrialization but
also paying attention to environmental protection. With the participation of
numerous professionals, other than building roads, laying railroad tracks,
digging canals, repairing dams, there were also works to protect forests, river
channels, water resources and soil. This was to pursue the dual idealized goals
of not only to eliminate the various disorder of nature itself but
also to correct the abuse and wastage of natural resources in the United
States. After the Second World War, American society shifted from a production
society to a consumption one, and the environmental protection movement evolved
from efficient resource protection in its earlier stage to
environmental protection while maintaining the quality of life.
turn of the 20th century, both sides of the Atlantic had been
responding to environmental changes. American travelers who returned
from Europe had admired the grandeur and elegance of Paris, or were astonished
by the neatness of German cities, or marveled at the British garden cities.
Upon returning home, these Americans became ashamed of the crudeness, filth,
and lack of unity in their cities. They sought to locate a blueprint for
transforming urban public spaces, first through European urban styles, and then
begin to create cities that express their characteristics, i.e.
modern cities, protection or transformation of wilderness, urban enclaves, the
establishment of the first national park - Yellowstone Park, and the first city
park - New York Central Park. More importantly, the United States established
its set of laws, institutions, and systems to protect the natural
environment, and similar concepts have subsequently spread to other parts of
process is full of various trials and opposing voices. Since the construction
of Central Park was included in the New York municipal agenda, its rationality
had been challenged by all parties, involving economic interests and social
justice for the grassroots, where the construction resulted in the displacement
of the latter. Yet, those who promoted its construction thought otherwise.
Charles Eliot, the designer of the Boston Metropolitan Park System, thought
that the rich could temporarily escape from the city to enjoy the natural
beauty, yet the urban poor with no financial means could have the opportunity
to appreciate the natural scenery at night, and the city parks could meet this
need. Although the elites faced various accusations, they still promoted the
implementation of these plans all the same. In hindsight, this was
undoubtedly a mutually beneficial situation for the entire city.
city administrators at that time gave up their immediate economic
interests for the public interest and made this precious piece of land a public
space. In the rapid urbanization process, Central Park instead pays
attention to providing a relaxation space for both people, flora, and fauna to
co-exist. Central Park then became an important spot for residents
living in New York. It is a refuge for urbanites to temporarily escape the
hustle and bustle of the city. Without Central Park, Manhattan would be a
completely different scene. The design has influenced the construction of many
urban parks, making the city more inclusive and intimate to its residents.
the birth of the public space, imagination and creativity followed suit.
Central Park began to be the filming location for Breakfast at Tiffany, Night
at the Museum, Penguins of Madagascar and The Avengers. It is also a place
where Fitzgerald, Woody Allen, Bob Dylan left their footprints, and the place
featured on various covers of the New Yorker magazine. From the transformation
of natural landscapes to the shaping of cultural landscapes, New York's Central
Park has become a three-dimensional monument.
environmental transformations, such as the park movement and urban
naturalization movement, have appeared many times in the history of American
cities. Industrial cities’ environments have gradually recovered. Boston's
scene has been delightful, Pittsburgh sees blue sky again, Kansas City shows
its revival, and San Francisco becomes suitable for all kinds of life. Of
course, in addition to improving the environment, this is based on
the transfer of industries, and the disappeared pollution has only moved
on to other countries.
1880s, with the rise of the progressive reform movement, part of the middle
class in New York, Boston, Chicago and other major cities began to reflect on
the various problems that emerged in the process of urbanization that is to
innovate and seek a new order, such as improving the city’s environment,
safeguarding nature and its resources, improving the environment of slums, and
paying attention to the harm caused by chemical pollution of water and air.
of change have not only revealed the ailments of the city but also made people
to seek solutions, such as the close integration between city and people.
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