Constructing Nature: Cultural Constructions of Nature and the Creation of the San Francisco Bay Area Landscape, c. 1940-1980

Cynthia Houng : History

Mentor: Professor David M. Henkin, History

This study seeks to understand how residents of the San Francisco Bay Area constructed definitions of Nature in the late 20th century, and how that construct in turn affected the development of the Bay Area landscape between 1940 and 1980, focusing specifically upon the construction and utilization of Bay Area parks. The dynamic interplay between designer and user reveals something of how humans relate to their environment as the park is physically adapted to shifting definitions of landscape and nature. Providing an entry point through which scholars can begin to unravel the tangles of urban ecology, the park serves as a key to unlock the greater questions of Nature and Artifice, perception and actualization. The research for this project naturally revolves around the Bay Area in the form of site studies and archival research. The project will culminate in a series of documentary photographs and a History senior honors thesis.