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Richard Hopkins Releases Book on the Growth of Greenspaces in 19th Century Paris


Dr. Richard S. Hopkins, assistant professor of history

Dr. Richard S. Hopkins, assistant professor of history at Widener University, has released the book “Planning the Greenspaces of Nineteenth-Century Paris” through Louisiana State University Press. The book examines the explosive growth of public parks, squares and gardens throughout the city of Paris in the second half of the 19th century. It will become available May 11 and is available for advanced purchase now through or through the publisher. The text’s intended audience ranges from specialists in European, urban and environmental history to individuals who simply have an interest in learning more about the many green areas of Paris.

In the text, Hopkins weaves together social and cultural history to argue that the expansion of Parisian greenspaces in the late 19th century served as more than a simple urban embellishment. Rather, they provided an essential component of the Second Empire’s efforts to transform and revitalize France’s capital city, and their development continued well into the Third Republic.

Hopkins brings a new dimension to the study of 19th century Parisian urbanism by considering the parks and squares of Paris from multiple perspectives: the reformers who advocated for them, the planners who constructed them, the workers who maintained them and the neighborhood residents who used them. As public areas over which private citizens felt a high degree of ownership, these spaces offered a unique opportunity for collaboration between city officials and residents. Hopkins examines the national and municipal goals for the greenspaces, their intended contributions to public health and the roles of park service employees and neighborhood groups in their ongoing centrality to Parisian life.

Hopkins earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Arizona State University, where he was awarded an International Dissertation Research Fellowship by the Social Science Research Council. This allowed for a year of research abroad on the place of greenspace in the 19th century redesign of Paris. His research became the basis his PhD dissertation, Engineering Nature: Public Greenspaces in Nineteenth-Century Paris,and helped informed his new book.

Since joining the Widener University history faculty in 2014, Hopkins has taught and developed a variety of courses on the history of Europe from the Renaissance to the present.

Hopkins is a resident of Glenolden, Pa.

Widener University is a metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve some 6,000 students. Widener is proud to be a tobacco-free university. Visit the university’s website,