Holland's Centennial Park and the Greater Movement for Public Greenspaces

Faculty Mentor(s)

Professor Alex Galarza

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This project is based upon archival and database research and culminates in the construction of a short documentary on Holland’s Centennial Park and its place in the wider urban greenspace movement. Centennial Park, founded in 1876 in celebration of the United States’ centennial anniversary, formed during an era of urban planning and improvement across both the United States and Europe. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a variety of purposes, including combating the debilitating effects of urbanization and creating an environment for sociopolitical conversation, motivated the development of urban greenspaces. It was in this context that the land in central Holland, originally set aside as a European-style marketplace, instead grew into a landscaped park. While Centennial Park held a place in the larger urban greenspace movement, Holland’s status as a small but budding Dutch-American town also caused it to develop its own unique dynamic. Centennial Park engendered both civic and national pride in its use as a gathering place and a pocket of natural beauty, a treasured part of Holland’s culture in the decades following its birth. By studying the historical role of Centennial Park in a broader context, this project contributes a deeper understanding of the park to those who visit it today.

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