Beyond the Pleasure Garden

  • Naomi J. Stubbs
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History book series (PSTPH)


So, what happened to the pleasure gardens? I have asserted their importance throughout this book, yet at some point after the 1840s they began to die out. Various scholars have put forth a variety of opinions on the matter, arguing that it was due to their not being “economically viable” as the “value of land climbed,” suffering from “the public’s preference chang[ing] gradually from active to passive entertainments,” or conversely, that that there was a “desire for more participatory and fast-paced forms of recreation.”1 Suggestions of what pleasure gardens literally became have ranged from transforming “from pleasure gardens to parks,” to their evolving “into concert saloon theatre,” and to their being an “ancestor of the later amusement park.”2 Of course, explanations that focus on single influencing factors or simple trajectories hide a wealth of nuances present within the form and its development. This tendency to observe the form in a vacuum, without relating them to more than one other form of entertainment has led to the legacy of pleasure gardens being obscured. This oversight, which has allowed the complexities of pleasure gardens and their importance in the cultural landscape of America to be largely overlooked, is what I address in this concluding chapter.


National Identity Public Park Theme Park Amusement Park Entertainment Venue 
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© Naomi J. Stubbs 2013

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  • Naomi J. Stubbs

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