Magazine article The New Yorker

Park Life

Magazine article The New Yorker

Park Life

Article excerpt

In 1863, at the peak of the Civil War, a package turned up on President Lincoln's desk containing stereoscopic images of the municipal wonder taking shape up in New York: Central Park. These high-tech photographic scenes were intended to soothe the President's nerves, just as the Park has calmed New Yorkers for generations. This summer is the hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of the state's wise decision--influenced by the preeminent nineteenth-century landscape designer Andrew Jackson Downing--to set aside a giant chunk of swampy Manhattan ground for the creation of the first major landscaped public park in the United States. Central Park, An American Masterpiece (Abrams), by Sara Cedar Miller, the Park's official historian, is itself a welcoming oasis, teeming with photographs of lush meadows, rustic pergolas, whimsical bridges, and Catskills-inspired ravines. …

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