Urban nature under tensionUrban nature under tension
Faculty of Arts. History
Centre for Urban History
2015Groningen :Wolters-Noordhoff, 2015
Tijdschrift voor geschiedenis. - Groningen, 1920, currens
128(2015):1, p. 45-68
University of Antwerp
Urban nature under tension. Dissension over a new policy domain in nineteenth-century Antwerp Research on urban green space is usually limited to those types of greenery with an official character. Unofficial green spaces, such as fallows between buildings or near ramparts, are harder to study, as are the varied uses of (un)official green spaces. This article analyses the multi-layered negotiations among politicians, citizens, civil servants, specialists, and even the press in the greening of nineteenth-century Antwerp. A series of debates fuelled the need for a special administration for this new sphere of the public domain. Moreover, regulations were issued in order to enforce proper behaviour. Testimonials suggest how common people actually experienced their surroundings, revealing many official attempts as naive. While the authorities tried to extend their power, the expectations about urban nature also shifted: a strictly utilitarian perspective was followed by a rather aesthetic view, which in turn was challenged by concerns of both an ecological and recreational nature.