Saving Central Park: A History and a Memoir

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In the 1970s New York’s Central Park was a shambles. The Picturesque (sic.) design of landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux had virtually disappeared under a rash of graffiti, broken and trampled vegetation, and a general air of despondency and irretrievable beauty. While it would be far-fetched to claim that a single person was responsible for the turn-around restoration, Elizabeth Barlow Rogers’ innovations, energy, and persistence have been a vital factor in the Park’s restoration. Initially, as Park Administrator with the Central Park Task Force, her long-term vision was realized after proposing and implementing the Central Park Conservancy to draw together public and ‘serious’ private money to reclaim and modernize the original buildings and gardens.

In the mid-nineteenth century, human creativity and ‘back-breaking labor’ had transformed a rectangular space of 843 acres into a haven for all to visit and enjoy nature in the burgeoning city. Successive Parks Commissioners, ups and downs of the economy, and changing social mores challenged the Mission until now, as Rogers explains it, the Park has its own ‘in-house design/build/maintain landscape architectural firm,’ ensuring constant care.

No doubt Saving Central Park, with numerous past and present photographic images, is especially significant to New Yorkers and the Park’s visitors, but the book is also a compelling memoir. One further bonus: Annie Leibovitz’s cover portrait of the author in an exquisite park setting.

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Author Elizabeth Barlow Rogers
Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 336 pages
Publisher Knopf
Publish Date 2018-May-15
ISBN 9781524733551
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue September 2018
Category Biographies & Memoirs
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