02 October 2014

Rutherford Platt Returns to Baltimore to Speak about “Reclaiming American Cities”

Baltimore City Historical Society, Friends of Maryland Olmsted Parks & Landscapes
and Maryland Historical Society invite you to a special program in a series which is 
Exploring Environmental History 

Reclaiming American Cities: The Struggle for Humane Urbanism Since Olmsted
Rutherford Platt 

Saturday, November 8, 2014
1:00 to 3:00 pm
France Hall, Maryland Historical Society
201 W. Monument St., Baltimore MD 21201
Free admission and parking. For directions, visit http://www.mdhs.org/

Rutherford Platt returns to the city, where in 2009 he organized the well-attended conference, “Humane Metropolis Baltimore.”  

This lecture is part of the ongoing Exploring Environmental History series, and is co-sponsored by the Friends of Maryland’s Olmsted Parks & Landscapes, the Baltimore City Historical Society, and the Maryland Historical Society.

In books and conferences, Platt, Professor Emeritus of Geography at the University of Massachusetts, has advanced the concept of “the humane metropolis,” the goal of making cities more environmentally livable, sustainable, and just.  His most recent book on the subject, Reclaiming American Cities: The Struggle for People, Places, and Nature Since 1900 (University of Massachusetts Press, 2013), traces the last century of American urban history to gain perspective on the challenges facing cities as well as recent signs of “humane urbanism” at work across the country.

Platt harks back to Frederick Law Olmsted, Senior, whom he credits with “a democratic vision that cities must not simply enrich and amuse the privileged, but also nurture and uplift the lives of the entire urban populace.”  

Taking measure of contemporary America, Platt writes that “in cities suburbs across the country, there are countless signs of ‘humane urbanism’—some encouraged by the Smart Growth movement and some simply homegrown—such as shoring up older neighborhoods, reviving parks, expanding bike paths, restoring urban streams and waterfronts, growing food and creating farmers’ markets, and resisting gentrification.”  He finds these initiatives “like wildflowers sprouting from the cracks of abandoned parking lots . . . to make everyday habits more bearable and local residents more connected to one another and to natural phenomena in their midst.”

Platt is a University of Massachusetts professor, who has organized a series of conferences, including one in Baltimore several years ago, called "The Humane Metropolis" focusing on efforts to make our cities more livable, environmentally sustainable, and environmental just.  Platt's Humane Metropolis web site: http://www.humanemetropolis.org/

In addition to the Baltimore conference, Platt organized similar forums in New York, Pittsburgh, and Riverside (California).  The New York conference resulted in publication of The Humane Metropolis:  People and Nature in the 21st Century City (2006).  In 2010 he returned to New York to present a series of public panel sessions, “Turning the Tide:  New York’s Waterfront in Transition.”

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