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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Bryant Park, New York: Strangers in Public Spaces

  • Author(s): Saphan, LinDa
  • Salas, Michelle
  • Rozario, Cathleen
  • et al.

Urban sociologists have studied how people interact in public spaces, but there has been little study of how changing technology has impacted how people relate to one another in these spaces. We conducted an observational study of people in Bryant Park in New York City to find out how electronic devices impact social contact in a small public park that normally would be conducive to interacting with others. We sought to understand how visitors to this urban park have evolved, how they engage with each other and with personal technology in the park, and how they relate to the surrounding urban space. We found that electronic communication devices can either isolate city dwellers or bring them closer together, depending on personal and environmental factors.


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