Since the midnineteenth century, green spaces have been part of urban planning. In the twentieth century, green areas and park structures have become an integral part of urban design. In many examples, we can see that the green areas are not only an important part of the urban pattern, but they also became a vital part of the identity of the new urban development. At the Netherlands Institute for Spatial Research, we recently did two studies into the role of green spaces in the identity of urban areas. The first study focussed on inner-city neighbourhoods that are all part of a national programme to improve deprived urban areas in the Netherlands. The other study dealt with a totally different group of urban areas, being 13 recent Dutch suburbs built from 1995. Together, these two studies provided an overview of almost 150 years of urban planning and park design. As far as green spaces and their role in the urban pattern are concerned, the two studies wanted to find answers to the following research questions: · In which ways can parks and other green spaces contribute to the identity of urban patterns? · Which characteristics are typical for specific periods or styles in park design and urban planning? · Can we find a difference in focus regarding quantity (park surface area standards) and quality in different periods? · What is the role of historical landscape elements in newly developed urban areas? During the research, we found that green and other open spaces can be really important characteristics of these areas. In some cases, tiny little paved squares turned out to be vital for the identity of neighbourhoods. In others, generous park systems, often combined with a network of canals and lakes, were the backbone of a surprisingly strong urban design. The most intriguing finding is, that we can see a change in focus happening in the mid-twentieth century, in which the emphasize shifts from quantity to quality.