Fat of the Land: Garbage in New York: The Last Two Hundred Years

By Benjamin Miller | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
Parks and Parkways

When Frederick Olmsted and Calvert Vaux prepared their plan for Brooklyn's Prospect Park shortly after the Civil War (another job cut out from under Egbert Viele), they were impressed with the significance of recent advances in carriage construction. Narrower wheels and lighter, springhung frames made it possible to travel faster, which in turn increased the popularity of these vehicles, and created a demand for smoother road surfaces, particularly on the kinds of roads most likely to be used for family recreational trips. But beyond the mere surface of such roads, the increase in personal mobility offered by this technological advance suggested a new form for the urban roadway itself, a concept that the planners offered- while admitting that it fell outside their explicit sphere of jurisdiction—to the park's Board of Commissioners. Olmsted and his partner noted that city roads had evolved over time from the simple footpath that connected dwellings randomly arrayed, to wider tracks that allowed the use of wheeled conveyances, to streets in which pedestrians were separated from vehicles (and the mud and animal droppings left in their wake) on raised walkways along either side ("sidewalks"), to the formula sometimes used to link European palaces to parks, in which the roadway was bisected by a central mall between opposing directions of traffic. (The best example of this latest development was Haussmann's Avenue Foch, between the Place d'Étoile and the Bois de Boulogne, which Olmsted had inspected in 1859.) They now proposed a "fifth stage" of urban roadway, which improved upon the palace-to-park formula by bisecting the central mall with a road "prepared with express reference to pleasure-riding and driving." They dubbed this new form—with its six rows of trees separating sidewalks from ordinary roadways, roadways from mall, and mall from pleasure road, which produced a cross-sectional distance between house fronts of 260 feet, a gap sufficient to break the spread of fire and to provide enough light, air, and

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Fat of the Land: Garbage in New York: The Last Two Hundred Years
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Fat of the Land - Garbage in New York the Last Two Hundred Years *
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chronology xiii
  • Prologue Garbarge *
  • Part I - Engineering Reform *
  • Chapter 1 - The Greatest Happiness *
  • Chapter 2 - Grease *
  • Part II - Expanding Opportunities *
  • Chapter 3 - Friends *
  • Chapter 4 - Enemies *
  • Part III - Public Work *
  • Chapter 5 - Roads and Rails *
  • Chapter 6 - Bridges and Tunnels *
  • Chapter 7 - Parks and Parkways *
  • Chapter 8 - Ports and Airports *
  • Part IV - Landscape Sculpture *
  • Chapter 9 - Citizens and Scientists *
  • Chapter 10 - Taking Heat *
  • Chapter 11 - Two Paths *
  • Chapter 12 - Waste Management *
  • Chapter 13 - Hauling Biomass *
  • Epilogue - Pee-Yew Choo Choo *
  • Notes *
  • Illustration Credits *
  • Index *
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