Archive for the ‘Central Park Story – Book Two’ Category:

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

Robert Burns

The Robert Burns statue that sits on the Promenade looks ready to pen another masterpiece.

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 inspiration for his song writing, Dylan didn’t hesitate to mention the poem, ‘A Red Red Rose!’  by our dear ‘Robbie’ Burns.

In my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story, Christopher Middleton, the main character, also finds this poem to be an inspiration that takes him to new heights in his relationship with his friend, Jennifer.

In case you don’t already have the poem memorized (smile), here it is:

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee well, my only Luve
And fare thee well, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.

Olmsted’s Many Projects Beyond Central Park

Frederick Law Olmsted

Frederick Law Olmsted, a master of his craft

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 quality of his work was recognized by his contemporaries, who showered him with dozens of prestigious commissions. His inspired plans set a standard for excellence that continues to influence landscape architecture in the United States to this day.

But that wasn’t all that occupied his unbounded energy. His other lines of achievement included his activism in conservation and the National Park system, as well as providing medical services to the Union Army during the Civil War.

Oh, and by the way, Olmsted turned out to be a very late bloomer who didn’t find his footing as a landscape architect until his mid-thirties! So I guess that means there’s hope for the rest of us (including, I might add, Christopher Middleton, the main character in my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story).

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


Imagine yourself seeing this …

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.

Yosemite Falls

…and this…

When Congress granted the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove to the State of California in 1864, Olmsted was appointed by California Governor Frederick Low to lead the nine-member Yosemite Commission. His 1865 report, “The Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove,” was suppressed by those in favor of development and then lost until 1952. However, in his report he underscored:

–the importance of contact with wilderness for human well-being,
–the effect of beautiful scenery on human perception, and
–the moral responsibility of governments to preserve regions of  extraordinary natural beauty for the benefit of all the people.


…and this for the very first time.

The report includes thoughtful suggestions for managing the park for human enjoyment with minimal harm to the natural environment. Olmsted even created a resource inventory, a statement of purpose, and a park plan with goals and guidelines—using park planning principles that are still in use today.


Well, you can still do so today, thanks in part to the extraordinary vision of Frederick Law Olmsted

In my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story, Christopher Middleton,my main character, writes his journal on a trip to Yosemite with his great aunt. I did this to underscore the far-reaching influence that Olmsted had, not just on landscape architecture, but the preservation of our natural resources as a whole.

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

womens gate

What could be so humble and unassuming as this inscription to the Women’s Gate at 72nd Street and Central Park West?

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 without even noticing they are there (see photo to the right).

This, however, is what makes them so wonderfully unique, for they become an expression, not of pomp and circumstance, but of the simple democratic principles on which Central Park was laid.

Their names, like their inconspicuous placement, are equally humble: Boys, Women’s, Strangers’, Hunters’, Mariners’, Engineers’, Scholars, Artists’, Artisans’, Warriors’, Pioneers’…to name just a few.

The city commissioners decided that using street numbers wasn’t in keeping with the spirit of a public park and so named them after the various professions and occupations most common at the time.

Strangely, the vast majority of the names were never carved at their assigned places until 1999, over one hundred years later. Quite likely, it had to do with lack of private funding, since the city felt it was something that should be born by private interests. In any case, the original names were finally inscribed (by private interests) according to the original intent.

I found it so compelling that several of them had to do with the various professions that Olmsted himself tried (and later abandoned) in his lifetime, that I decided to make them a theme in Books Three and Four of my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story.


A Secret Staircase in the Underground Arcade?

Central Park Arcade

It’s not hard to imagine a secret staircase appearing in one of the arches along the walls, no?

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 series, Central Park Story, and find out!

Quiz: Who Was George Washington’s Chief of Staff?

Alexander Hamilton

The statue of Alexander Hamilton behind the Met in Central Park

The answer is Alexander Hamilton!

From early youth, Hamilton sought glory on the battlefield, but he only found it while serving under General George Washington who took note of the young man’s superlative talent as an administrator and made him his chief of staff.

Where Washington was prudent and reserved, with excellent judgment,  Hamilton was brilliant and decisive, and prone to rashness.

Hamilton’s rashness led to a break between the two, but he eventually returned to duty, receiving the field assignment he so desperately wanted, and led a successful assault on the British position at the decisive battle of Yorktown.

In my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story, I tried to capture Hamilton’s fiery temperament by contrasting it with Christopher’s more laid back approach to life.

Homeless in Central Park During the Great Depression

Central Park Homeless Encampment

A homeless encampment at the north end of the park in the early 1930s. Will it happen again?

Imagine strolling through Central Park and stumbling across an encampment for the homeless.

Such an encampment actually existed during the first years of the Great Depression (see pic to the right).

Times were tough, and people were desperate (sound familiar?).

Even though public sentiment was firmly on the side of the Hooverville residents, the Parks Commissioner was forced to raze it due to lack of sanitary conditions.

With homelessness in the city having recently topped 60,ooo for the first time ever (2015), it’s not that hard to imagine something similar happening today.

For this reason, I have tried to highlight the problem of homelessness in my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story.


Did Frederick Law Olmsted Keep A Personal Diary?


He even looks mischievous later in life, doesn’t he?

I am not aware that Frederick Law Olmsted ever kept a personal diary. Certainly he wrote numerous letters, many of which are preserved in the Library of Congress, as well as several extensive travelogs that formed the basis of several books. Yet, when he wrote the following biographical fragment in one of his letters: ‘I was very active, imaginative, inventive, impulsive, enterprising, trustful, and heedless, which makes for what is generally called a troublesome and mischievous boy,’ I couldn’t help but  have Christopher Middleton, the main character of my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story, discover a secret diary in which Olmsted divulges his private thoughts.

Bergdorf Goodman: Not Your Typical Department Store


Bergdorf Goodman, at 58th Street and Fifth…talk about location!

Situated at 58th Street and Fifth just opposite Central Park, Bergdorf Goodman is about as iconic a store as you could imagine.

Just prior to the purchase of the property by Mr. Goodman, it was the Cornelius Vanderbilt estate, whose massive gate now graces the entrance to the Conservatory Garden at 106th Street.


A typically modest window display at Bergdorf’s

So many references in films have been made to this famous store, they could probably be turned into a movie themselves.

For that reason, as well as the fact that it is located a block from Central Park, I make it a preferred shopping oasis for Ashley Ferguson, one of the main characters in my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story.


European Parks vs. Central Park . . . A World Apart!

Hyde Park

Hyde Park in London, though still on the regal side, comes closer to what Olmsted had in mind for Central Park than its other European counterparts.

European parks had their not-so-humble origins as playgrounds for royalty. Olmsted visited many of these parks on his overseas tours and took voluminous notes of what he saw. Much of what he saw he tried to avoid in his design of Central Park.

Rather than massive fountains, overbearing statues, and cleverly manicured gardens, he and his partner, Calvert Vaux, allowed for only one simple, but beautiful, fountain, one beautiful but elegant statue (the Angel of the Waters on the Terrace) and zero manicured gardens (the Conservatory Garden at 106th Street was only added after Olmsted and Vaux had passed on).

The result was a striking degree of relaxed elegance through naturalistic beauty and simplicity. Their goal throughout was to let nature be the central focus. After all, wasn’t it nature and our natural resources that made our country stand out from its European counterparts?

Throughout my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story, I have tried to underline the unique vision that Olmsted and Vaux brought to the idea of a public park.

the Jardin du Luxembourg the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris.