Art and Urban Regeneration in New York City. Doris C. Freedman’s Public Project

María F. Carrascal Pérez


Given its positive economic, social and urban impact, even with low-cost or low-tech materialization, the urban creativity encouraged by the arts is of great interest today. This narrative reviews one of the most prolific careers in this regard addressing the pioneering work by Doris C. Freedman. The late 1960s and the 1970s, in the context of two financial crises, saw a groundbreaking effort to formalize innovative artistic programs that recycled the obsolete city and integrated local communities in the processes. Doris C. Freedman was the first director of NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Public Arts Council, and leader of the organization City Walls. These institutions promoted an unprecedented improvement of the public urban life through the cultural action. Such experiences led Freedman to the conception of her last project, the relevant and, still, ongoing Public Art Fund of New York City. This article focuses on her early professional years, when she began and consolidated herself in the task of legitimizing art as an urban instrument for shaping the city. This research provides a contextualized critical analysis on Freedman’s less-known experimental projects before the foundation of the Public Art Fund, enabling an extraordinary source of inspiration for a current creative city-making.


Public art; public space; urban art; urban regeneration; New York City

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