Parks & Nature
The word ‘suburb’ is derived from the Latin word suburbium, whose stems mean “under” and “city.” As such, the idea of the suburb was created in relation to the idea of a city. As such, the word ‘suburb’ represents ideas that may contrast greatly with ideas that are associated with cities. Open two Google Image Search windows. In one, search for the term “suburb.” In the other, search for the word “city.” The resulting images are drastically different. In one window, we are presented with scenes of tall skyscrapers, packed densely together along the backdrop of a beautiful skyline. In the other, we are presented with scenes of countless identical houses, neatly arranged with their front lawns along tree-lined streets. The beautiful skyline is not a necessity for this image: it is beautiful enough on the ground.
This discrepancy is one that, while seemingly apparent, is not often studied. Regardless, it is an important facet of suburban life to examine: what exactly is the role of parks and nature in the American Suburb? In man’s attempt to create a refuge away from city life, he clung to natural beauty as a focal point of his design. Swiss architect Le Corbusier, in 1935, spoke of the American suburb by describing “its generous, unfenced lots and its green amplitude.” In light of this, a study of the rise of the American suburb is incomplete without a study of the history of the green space that makes suburbia distinguishable from its city counterpart.
In a case study of Yonkers, there are many topics to discuss in regards to nature. Joseph P. Madden, in his A Documentary History of Yonkers, asserts that,
For the sake of brevity, I will strive to present the importance of parks and nature through the use of two examples: Tibbetts Brook Park and the Saw Mill River. Both the park and the river were vital in the development of Yonkers. Furthermore, while the details of their pasts are very different, there are clear parallels that, if studied, can be applied to all aspects of nature in suburbs. While focused in scope, I believe that learning about the histories of these two defining features of Yonkers will allow us to realize that the American suburb is anchored in the natural world.
 Witold Rybcznski, "How To Build a Suburb," Wilson Quarterly, 19, no. 3 (1995): 1.
 Joseph Madden, A Documentary History of Yonkers, (1992), chap. 3.