Ernst May and the New Frankfurt am Main Initiative, 1926–1931
5 Parks and Gardens 245
5Parks and Gardens The naked body evolves into the symbol of the individual liberated from pre- vailing social conditions, to water is ascribed the myth’s power to wash away the dirt of the workplace. It is the hydraulic pressure of the economic system that overcrowds our swimming baths.1 —Sigfried Kracauer As the country crept out of the post-war depression, an abundance of programs encouraged a healthy, outdoor life, and the sleek body became the symbol of rebirth. (Figure 5.01) Leisure was a politicized ter- rain, but sport and gardening were activities all could rally around. Reformers promoted them as healthy, productive, and morally uplifting; industrialists saw a vaccine against discontent. For the workers, sports clubs were both political and social centers, while gardening promised them a modicum of security, a hedge against an uncertain economy. Among them all there was a general alarm at the erosion of tradi- tional culture: even trade union leaders were shocked by a Weimar generation with little of the steadfast sobriety of the older gen- eration, a casualty, it seemed, of urban life and its dissipations. Thus, the cre- ation of parks and allotment gardens evolved as the setting for a heroic post- war culture, a vigorous population, and even the democratization of leisure. And, as rationalization had its impact even here, experts spoke in a “scientific” language that quantified the area—three square meters—of parkland required per citizen, and the 250 square meters required to feed a family of four.2 Only one division...
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