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The New Urban Park: Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Civic Environmentalism Hardcover – February 2, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"With wit, intelligence, and a lively writing style, Rothman provides an impressive, well researched, and important contribution to environmental and western history."

From the Back Cover

"A significant contribution to the field and a model for all future studies of the so-called urban park phenomenon. Rothman's ability to place local park developments into a broader regional and national perspective gives the book exceptional strength."--Arthur R. Gómez, National Park Service historian and author of Quest for the Golden Circle: The Four Corners and the Metropolitan West, 1945-1970

"With wit, intelligence, and a lively writing style, Rothman provides an impressive, well researched, and important contribution to environmental and western history."--Albert S. Broussard, author of Black San Francisco: The Struggle for Racial Equality in the West, 1900-1954

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; 1st edition (February 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700612866
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700612864
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,082,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ranger Reub on November 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Completing a full-length history of Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) might seem odd considering its relative youth compared to other national park areas. Hal Rothman, chair of the history department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas demonstrates the park deserves such a study because it is different than anything the National Park Service has managed before. At GGNRA, the traditional NPS management style had to be adapted for a dynamic urban population that visited the urban park for a variety of reasons, most of which were not the typical uses long-established in the bureau's "crown jewels" like Yellowstone, Yosemite and Glacier.

Accustomed to exerting great influence in and around its larger, more conventional parks, at GGNRA the park held "one of many seats at a regional political and economic table" (x). Residents did not defer to park management like they had in and around the crown jewels. Previously, national parks functioned more as symbols than participatory reality (2). At GGNRA, the park service had to accept fully participating public and break its affinity to hiking by admitting visitors that enjoyed activities such as biking, hang gliding, skateboarding instead of simple sightseeing.

GGNRA has presented many management challenges. The park is largely without boundary signs or markers and it has been easy for visitors to overlook its national status (61). Many areas of the park contain private property, which is a source of management difficulty because the owners' decisions could impact visitors experience in the park and the park's ecology (94). Unlike any previous national park, GGNRA established a Citizen's Advisory Board. The NPS has greatly heeded to public comment in shaping management practices.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Arthur Digbee VINE VOICE on October 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In this book, Hal Rothman provides a history of Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). Rothman sees this as an example of a new type of urban park, though he doesn't really spend any time comparing it to Gateway NRA in New York, Cape Cod NRA outside Boston, Cuyahoga NP outside Cleveland, Santa Monica Mountains NRA outside Los Angeles, and the many other examples of urban national parks - - which should probably include the open spaces in Washington DC such as Rock Creek Park and the National Mall, for that matter. Instead, he views GGNRA more or less as one of a kind, despite the title of the book.

Two related themes take up most of his book: "civic environmentalism," that is, the local interest groups that pushed for the park and that shape its every action; and the management challenges that the National Park Service (NPS) faces in this environment. These challenges include issues such as dealing with natural and man-made fires, off-leash dogs, a nude beach, protecting cultural and historic resources, and figuring out what to do with Alcatraz. Most of the book deals with such matters and the politics around them. Rothman's narrative always risks going off into minutiae, but he keeps his eye on the larger management issues.

Rotman also includes lots of "obiter dicta" in his narrative - - opinionated and unsupported comments about American politics and society that are irrelevant for the story here. It's indicative of this predilection that Rothman mentions Ronald Reagan and his Interior Secretary, James Watt, far more than he mentions Nixon, Carter, Clinton or either Bush, or their Interior Secretaries.
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