CityLab editorial fellow Julian Spector examines new evidence that shows adding green spaces can reduce crime.

Recent studies have found significant associations between green space maintenance and certain types of crime in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Youngstown, Ohio.

The exact mechanism is not yet known, but one theory harkens back to Jane Jacobs’ notion of “eyes on the street”: well-kept lawns and community plots encourage more people to spend time outside in those spaces, leading to a greater degree of informal surveillance of the area and deterring crime, writes Spector.

The research gives cities reasons to reassess policies about cleaning and greening vacant lots, developing parks, or catching stormwater in green installations.

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