Faculty Seminar Advisor

Kimberly Jensen

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

History

Document Type

Paper

Publication Date

2017

Abstract

In early twentieth century America, industrialization reshaped the physical environments Americans occupied, the ways they conceived of them, and the ways they believed they could use them. The corresponding urbanization leading up to and throughout the Progressive Era meant that growing communities would have to adapt to new social, economic, and political circumstances. Other historians have discussed these changes within American society extensively, but have spent much less time elaborating on how progressive reformers utilized designed spaces to respond to them. During this period, city planners and community leaders alike sought to access the design and implementation of “restorative” spaces to mitigate concerns stemming from the changes brought by industrialization. These spaces could be widened streets, town forests, parks, or other civic improvements that specifically addressed one or more perceived problems facing an industrialized society. The projects planned and produced by Charles S. Bird Jr. and city planner John Nolen in the small town of Walpole, Massachusetts exemplify the application of restorative spaces. Specifically, through an examination of the plans for the 1914 Neponset Garden Village, the 1916 establishment of the Walpole Town Forest, and the 1925 creation of Francis William Park, this paper investigates the rationale behind these spatial reforms. These carefully and pragmatically planned spaces would come to embody the optimism, community emphasis, and the social and political anxieties of Progressive Era reforms.

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