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Public Space

  • By: Thomas Chapman
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Many different meanings come to mind when one thinks of public space. Most definitions of public space involve what are usually thought of as communal “civic” spaces, such as public squares, city parks, public streets, sidewalks, and plazas. These spaces represent the stage on which communal life unfolds and where the ebb and flow of human exchange takes place. In this vein, public spaces are communal spaces where social, political, and economic activities take place. Other definitions of public space include those public domains that go beyond the local scale and that affect everyday communal life, such as global institutions or even the “spacelessness” of the Internet.

Public space is a necessary element of human existence, providing channels for movement, nodes for communication, and common areas ...

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