The 1970 Comprehensive Land Use Plan of Hackensack Meadowlands: The Coral Reef of a New Environmental Planning Ethos

Authors: Sevin Yildiz*, Barnard College
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Planning Geography, Environmental Perception
Keywords: urban planning, environmental planning, urban ecologies, planning in the 1970s, New York Metropolitan Region
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Bayside A, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This presentation focuses on a critical threshold in the urban planning and environmental policy making for New Jersey Meadowlands in 1970 known as Hackensack Meadowlands back then. The Meadowlands, once a cedar forest, is the largest tract of open space within five miles of Manhattan’s midtown. Depending on one’s point of view, the Meadowlands is a marginalized marshland, an urban estuary, a piece urban wilderness disturbed by major transportation infrastructure. Starting in the 1960s, the spillover effects of new federal mandates concerning air and water pollution and the conception of a new development ethos with regards to environmental pollution undoubtedly reshaped the landscape of policy making in this decade. This study argues that plan making for the Meadowlands during this period took a radically different turn when compared to former planning efforts for the region. From the inter-disciplinary nature of the planning teams to the new and hybridized rhetoric of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) of 1970, an experimental era of land use controls was beginning. The exploration of this decade from an urban planning perspective, which began with the passage of the unprecedented Hackensack Meadowlands Act of 1968, sheds light into a unique case where environment was re-conceptualized through a series of experimental planning acts. It is also critical to understand these past clashing encounters, which in this case were environmental preservation vs. economic development pressures, in planning discipline’s own particular history as scholars continuously try to frame this relationship in today’s ecological urbanism discourses.

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