Central Park as an Embodiment of the American Dream in the 19th Century

In his definition of the American Dream, James Truslow Adams stated that ‘life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to his or her ability or achievement’ regardless of social class or circumstances of birth. This may have been the American dream of 1931, but was this always […]

So You Know What a Lemniscate Is, But What About a Mobius Strip?

So it turns out that you were smart enough to know what a lemniscate is but you’re stumped when it comes to a Mobius strip? Well, here’s the answer to the second half of my two-part quiz: A Mobius strip is a two-dimensional object that can only exist in three-dimensional space. Got it? Still confused? […]

Olmsted’s Ever-Abiding Love for Central Park

‘Love’ isn’t exactly a word that was bandied about in the 19th Century. Times were tough in a country that had to go through a devastating Civil War and for people who had to work hard for everything they put on the table. So when it comes to Olmsted’s feelings about his work on Central […]

Robert Burns’ Inspired Poem ‘A Red Red Rose!’

Most people know that Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796)  was a Scottish poet and lyricist widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland. What most people don’t know about is his connection to Bob Dylan–a lyrical poet and a romantic of our own times. When asked what he felt was the greatest […]

Olmsted’s Many Projects Beyond Central Park

There isn’t enough space on a single post to outline all of Olmsted’s other projects beyond Central Park. Suffice it to say that they start with Prospect Park in Brooklyn and run clear across the country where he designed the master plan for the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University in Palo Alto. The […]

Olmsted, Yosemite, and the Tender Beginnings of Our National Park System

During a brief stint as superintendent of the Mariposa Mining Estate operations in 1863, Olmsted took a side trip to Yosemite Valley. Both himself and the others with him were among the first white people to lay eyes on this natural wonder. Olmsted immediately fell in love with what he saw. When Congress granted the […]

The Eighteen Gates of Central Park: From Concept to Reality (Over 100 Years Later!)

The last touch in the construction of Central Park was the naming of it’s various entrances, called ‘gates’. When we think of ‘gates’ we generally think of something ornate, even elaborate, but these ‘gates’ or entrances, of which there are eighteen, are humble indeed. If one isn’t on the alert, one can pass their inscriptions […]

A Secret Staircase in the Underground Arcade?

Probably not. Still, it doesn’t take much of an imagination to think of a hidden staircase suddenly appearing in place of the trompe l’oeils that currently grace the inner walls of the arcade. If you want to find out where such an imaginary staircase might lead, I invite you to read my young adult adventure […]

A Gambling Casino in Central Park? You Must Be Joking!

I’m not joking. A short distance inside and southwest of the Inventors’ Gate at Fifth Avenue and 72nd Street, where today’s Summer Stage concerts are held, there was once a bustling casino where cocktail music and the fragrance of food drifted beyond the treetops. Designed in 1864 by Calvert Vaux, the building was originally the […]

Henry David Thoreau: A Logical Counterpart to Olmsted’s Views of Nature

Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was an American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, and historian. Had enough? What about a leading Transcendentalist best known for his book, Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings. “I went to the woods because I wished to live […]