American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 823–851

Fertile Ground for Community: Inner-City Neighborhood Common Spaces


    • University of Illinois
  • William C. Sullivan
    • University of Illinois
  • Rebekah Levine Coley
    • University of Chicago
  • Liesette Brunson
    • University of Illinois

DOI: 10.1023/A:1022294028903

Cite this article as:
Kuo, F.E., Sullivan, W.C., Coley, R.L. et al. Am J Community Psychol (1998) 26: 823. doi:10.1023/A:1022294028903


Research suggests that the formation of neighborhood social ties (NSTs) may substantially depend on the informal social contact which occurs in neighborhood common spaces, and that in inner-city neighborhoods where common spaces are often barren no-man's lands, the presence of trees and grass supports common space use and informal social contact among neighbors. We found that for 145 urban public housing residents randomly assigned to 18 architecturally identical buildings, levels of vegetation in common spaces predict both use of common spaces and NSTs; further, use of common spaces mediated the relationship between vegetation and NSTS. In addition, vegetation and NSTs were significantly related to residents' senses of safety and adjustment. These findings suggest that the use and characteristics of common spaces may play a vital role in the natural growth of community, and that improving common spaces may be an especially productive focus for community organizing efforts in inner-city neighborhoods.

neighborhood social tiesenvironmental variablessense of communityneighboring

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1998