Bethedsa Terrace–the Heart and Soul of Central Park
It amazes me that the only formal element that Olmsted and Vaux envisioned for Central Park is the Mall that leads to the Bethesda Terrace. The rest of the park is, quite simply, devoted to nature.
When I looked at thirty-odd original submissions in the competition to create America’s premier urban park, most of them were full of formal elements–everything from parade grounds to Eurpean-style gardens!
It’s a tribute to Olmsted and Vaux that they were able to capture the spirit of their fledgling country through their realization that nature was what set it apart.
That’s what makes the Mall and the Terrace true works of genius. They lead one through a kind of open air church to the altar of Nature Herself.
There’s too much to say on this subject to fit in a simple blog. In fact, it’s part of what inspired me to write my young adult adventure series Central Park Story, but in a single stroke, Vaux managed to bring man and Nature back together in the true spirit of harmony and peace.
He even suggested that the statue of the Angel that graces the terrace be dedicated to Love, and one can understand why. Only love could have formed such a work of simplicity with the potential to draw man and nature back together as one.
As you will hopefully discover when you read in Central Park StoryBook Two, this isn’t lost on Christopher in his search for meaning in his own chaotic life.