This dissertation examines the social, cultural, political and environmental aspects of public greenspaces within Paris during the nineteenth century. It considers the relationship among the city, its residents, and the public parks demonstrating the way in which urban greenspace was contested and negotiated space. It broadens the study of the mid-century urban development and infuses it with considerations of the social and cultural impact of natural spaces, and aesthetic sensibilities, as well as a sense of how nature, or constructed nature, in the urban milieu affected the understanding and daily use of city space. Moreover, this study of Parisian greenspace under Napoleon III, Haussmann, and their lead designer-engineer for parks, Adolphe Alphand, contributes to a more nuanced, although non-apologetic, history of the Second Empire and points out continuities with preceding and subsequent regimes. The implications of the alterations to the Parisian cityscape century reach far beyond the particular world of the Second Empire capital. Understanding the place of greenspace within the urban environment is particularly pertinent both historically and at present, when for the first time in history, more people on earth live in cities rather than rural areas. Megalopolises such as Istanbul and Shanghai now confront some of the same issues concerning the role of greenspace in the urban environment that Paris faced more than a century ago. This study moves from a broad theoretical and geographical perspective of public park development to a consideration of the practice of Parisian urban greenspaces: the individual Parisians, their impact on, and actual experience of greenspace within the city of Paris. This progression addresses thematic concerns such as the public health and welfare, the role of positivist philosophy in the development of urban greenspaces, concepts of public and private in the urban environment, landscape design and greenspace development, questions of rights and liberty, and the exercise of human agency. This dissertation demonstrates that Parisian public greenspaces, created during the mid-nineteenth century, were as much a product of the particular historical context out of which they emerged, as they were a key to reshaping that context. The form and nature of Parisian greenspace was the product of significant community involvement coupled with a receptive, pragmatic, mid-level bureaucracy. The result, as evidence in the use of these spaces, was urban space uniquely suited to simultaneously fitting national, municipal, community and individual needs and agendas. As such, these greenspaces became wholly public, urban spaces within which Parisians from all levels of society negotiated complex social relations.