Gates and fences have become ubiquitous throughout the world. Their
use in residential communities fits within global historical trends to seek
ways to protect and award power to some, while controlling others.
Comparing gated private and public housing communities in Puerto
Rico, this talk considers how gates, through their physical qualities and
public images, create a safe and beautiful botanical sanctuary for the
elite, while they lock the poor behind regulatory urban structures. By
physically and symbolically marking communities, gates shape and
sustain race and class distinctions while becoming perverted symbols of
beauty and order—“green veneers”—allegorical creations of a vision of
harmony and “safety” in which streets are empty, the “home” is the
locus of the social self, and people live inside secluded urban worlds.
Presented by The Urban History Working Group
Co-sponsored by the Ethnicity, Race and Migration Program at Yale