Municipal Parks versus Glorious Gardens: The Tensions of Inter-Governmental Management of Urban Park Space

Temby, Anna

Ngā Pūtahitanga / Crossings: A Joint Conference of SAHANZ and the Australasian UHPH Group

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In the early twentieth century the view of urban parks as health-giving, vital spaces in modern cities had been firmly established, however, a stark contrast was present in the position of small urban parks, funded and managed by municipal governments, and the state-funded, pseudo- scientific Botanic Gardens. Using Meanjin (Brisbane) as a case-study, this paper examines how conflict between local and state governments drastically hindered the construction of accessible and functional municipal parks, while simultaneously limiting the access of working-class and marginalised citizens to state government-funded spaces such as the Botanic Gardens. Lack of cooperation between the tiers of government, and the privileging of the Botanic Gardens as a site of middle-class leisure, also led to citizen-intervention and investment in council-run park space, which sought to exclude or limit the use of these spaces by those perceived to be ‘unrespectable’ members of the population. This paper asserts that the unequal and oppositional practices in the governing of park and reserve spaces in the early twentieth century, and the tensions between local and state authorities, led to a further entrenching of social demarcations in public park spaces, and negatively impacted upon the significance of park spaces in urban centres.