2018] THE “PUBLICIZATION” OF PRIVATE SPACE 1095
There is a hidden garden on Fifth Avenue in New York that is open to
the public. You cannot see it from the street; it is on the fourth and fifth floors
of a tall building, and there is little signage directing you to it. The garden is
not open to the public just because the building owner is generous; it is open
to the public because it must be. The developer provided the garden in
exchange for the right to make the building taller than it otherwise could
Although you now know about the existence of this garden, accessing it
requires a few more steps. First, you have to enter the building and put your
bags through an x-ray machine. Then you have to take the escalator, if it is
open (and it is often not), or the elevator, which is sometimes manned by
security guards, up to the garden.1 Even after all of this, the garden might be
closed if the weather is bad. You will have to ask a security guard to be sure.
This garden is an example of privately owned public space. The private
owner of this particular public space? Donald Trump. The location? Trump
The mention of urban public space might bring to mind a variety of
images: a grand public park like San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, the many
streets and sidewalks that traverse our cities, or a plaza in front of city hall.
Historically, state and local governments owned and managed properties such
as these.2 However, in a number of cities, new public space of this sort is
becoming rare; frequently, newly created public space is privately owned and
managed.3 There are numerous examples of spaces that are open to the
public yet owned by private entities: malls, private university campuses, and
pools that require membership. But this Article focuses on a creature
developed by local governments known as privately owned public open space,
or “POPOS.”4 POPOS are typically created in one of two ways: (1) They are
1. Michelle Young, The Privately Owned Public Space Inside Trump Tower Is Already Less Accessible,
UNTAPPED CITIES (Dec. 9, 2016), http://untappedcities.com/2016/12/09/the-privately-owned-
2. Some cities now contract out management of these spaces to private, nonprofit organizations.
For example, Manhattan’s Central Park is managed by the Central Park Conservancy—which also
provides approximately three quarters of the park’s operating budget—under a contract with New York
City. About Us, CENT. PARK CONSERVANCY, http://www.centralparknyc.org/about/about-cpc (last
visited Dec. 17, 2017).
3. For example, New York, San Francisco, and London have all gained new POPOS in the
past few decades. See infra notes 132–35 and accompanying text (giving data showing the
prevalence of POPOS).
4. While San Francisco refers to these spaces as POPOS, New York and much of the urban
planning literature refers to them as POPS: privately owned public spaces. This Article will
generally use the term POPOS, but will use POPS when quoting existing literature f rom New
York. Also, though the term as defined here is singular, it will occasionally be necessary to use
POPOS to refer to privately owned public open spaces (plural). The distinction should be clear
from the text.