American Sociological Association

Parks for Profit: The High Line, Growth Machines, and the Uneven Development of Urban Public Spaces

This paper investigates the growing inequality of public spaces in contemporary cities. In the era of neoliberal urbanism, stratified economic and cultural resources produce a spectrum of unevenly developed public parks, ranging from elite, privatized public spaces in wealthy districts to neglected parks in poor neighborhoods. Contemporary economic and cultural practices in public space are equally segmented, as privileged public spaces such as New York's High Line reflect the consumption habitus of the new urban middle class, while violence, disinvestment, and revanchist policing permeate public spaces on the urban periphery. Using New York's High Line as an archetypal neoliberal space, I trace its redevelopment from a decaying railroad viaduct to a celebrated public park. I argue that contemporary parks and public spaces are best analyzed on a continuum of privilege.


Kevin Loughran





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