Childhoods in Place and Placeless Childhoods: An Historical Geography of Young People In Yorkville and East Harlem 1940-2000

This dissertation provides an analysis of how young people’s everyday lives outside of school in Yorkville and East Harlem have changed from the 1940s until present time, and what factors contribute to consistencies or differences in young people’s use and experience of their local environment. This research seeks to contribute to the limited academic literature on the historical geography of childhood in urban communities. The focus of this investigation is upon the period of middle childhood (roughly the period of childhood between ages 11 and 13), a time when most young people are able to actively and autonomously explore their communities. The emphasis of the research is on changes in children’s geographies, or how children use, think about, and make sense of place in their everyday life. I compare children’s geographies over three different time periods: 1) the 1940s, working with seniors in their 60s and 70s; 2) the 1970s, working with adults in their 30s; and 3) present time (2000s), working with young people aged 11-13. Topics explored in the research include young people’s sense of place, their interactions with peers and adults in the community, their leisure time activities, their use of public space and their geographic territories.

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Title: Childhoods in Place and Placeless Childhoods: An Historical Geography of Young People In Yorkville and East Harlem 1940-2000

Author(s): Pamela Wridt

Publication Date: 2004

Publisher: Dissertation, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York