Date of Award

Spring 2005

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




The purpose of my paper is to explore how the State's and the people's views concerning town squares come together. I will focus mainly on the duality between these two views: one the one hand, the State uses these spaces to display its power and for physical security. On the other side, the populace sees these spaces as theirs, as central to their community as citizens. Furthermore, they see it as a place to confront their government. Where else would be better than the place where the government seems to take on physical form?

I will explore this duality in three distinct regions: first, the United States, specifically the National Mall in Washington, D.C. I find this space to be representative of the Enlightenment-influenced view, as not only was it, and indeed the entire city of Washington, laid out with an Enlightenment aesthetic in mind, but it is also a place where the Enlightenment views on individual rights, and therefore protest, come into play. Second is Red Square in Moscow, Russian Federation. In this case, the thinking was more security-oriented and pragmatic, but the consideration was there nonetheless. That far less protest has taken place on Red Square than the National Mall I attribute more to far greater governmental control in the case of Russia, and differing political and social cultures.

Third, I look at this issue in the case of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. I pay particular attention to the demonstration and subsequent suppression that occurred in the spring of 1989, and how the issues discussed above (security, urban planning, and the people's confrontations of the government) interact during this time. Finally, I give a background, both in terms of thought and actual events.

First, I explain the Enlightenment aesthetic of order (and the associated concern with security), and then address the Chinese concept of space, order, and urban planning. I also then give a short history of the planning and development of each square and then some of the major events that led to their being seen as places of protest and demonstration by the people.

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