Environmental Science


John van Buren

Second Advisor

Rosemary Wakeman


Parks are keys to create a sustainable urban living environment. They are particularly important today as they ameliorate of one of the most urgent problem—global climate change. Parks has been New Yorkers’ most cherished public infrastructure. This thesis takes a close look on New York City and examines how open space planning affect the development of a metropolis. To investigate the topic, I applied three disciplines in environmental policy: environmental planning and design, history, and politics. These disciplines are intertwined. This thesis first digs in to the history of how the city’s iconic Central Park is created and evaluates how Robert Moses shaped New York with parks and parkways. Then, it identifies the environmental urban problems and approaches them with Jane Jacob’s idea and other new theories. It also includes other park examples such as the Highline Park, the Lowline, and Paley Park to demonstrate their sociological, recreation, ecology, and aesthetic value. Finally, it discusses the politics and dive into PlaNYC and its aim to ensure all New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of a park. This is a timeline of New York City’s park planning and I wish to prove for a sustainable future of metropolis with wise development decisions.