What happened to Franklin Square Park?: Understanding park quality through historical and present day contexts

Authors: Milan Brown*, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Mariya Shcheglovitova, University of Maryland Baltimore County
Topics: Urban Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: environmental justice, community geography, urban geography, participatory research, Baltimore, historical comparisons
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Franklin Square is a West Baltimore rowhouse community established in the mid 1800’s. Developers donated a plot of land to the city of Baltimore in 1839 to serve as a community space which became Franklin Square park. This project takes an in-depth look at Franklin Square park through present-day and historic sources. In the summer of 2018, in collaboration with community members, we surveyed park trees to create an updated park map. We compared the updated map to a 1916 map displaying park features including trees. Following the completion of the survey, we organized an event in the park for a group of students in an afterschool program. We collected reflections on student views of the park before and after the event. Analysis of student reflections were supplemented with historic and present-day newspaper and popular media accounts of Franklin Square Park. Despite indications that the physical quality of the park is deteriorating through loss of trees and park area, student reflections suggest that not only park features but also experience and memory shape park quality. Our findings illustrate the importance of collaborating with community members to incorporate an understanding of how a space is used when defining a quality green space. The study contributes to the fields of community geography and participatory research, and increases our understanding of urban geography and environmental justice.

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