Friday, July 17, 2009

Urban Design: Yin and Yang

One of the striking and completely vital elements of New York's urban landscape is the interrelationship between Cental Park and its surrounding city. Completely necessary to the quality of the city's life, this park's natural amenities are half of a yin and yang with the city's often gritty and hard-edged imagery. The drama of each is more sharply defined by its proximity to the other. This is true of a number of parks around the city, but Central Park's particular quality and its scale makes for a unique and compelling lesson in urban design.

The area of the Model Boat Pond, or Conservatory Water, and Kerbs Boat House are a valued part of Central Park. The history of Central Park shows a sustained civic act of will. It was also the result of a rare talent in Frederick Olmstead. His determined effort to instill the park with its spirit of the woods against sometimes bureaucratic fussiness from park commissioners and others was probably as essential a part of the outcome as his talent. Minutes for an 1894 meeting of park commissioners give a flavor of the testy relationships around the table during design and construction of the park.

Fifth Avenue at an entrance to Central Park

Path into the park.

Model Boat Pond and Kerbs Boat House

Inside Kerbs Boat House.

Sailboat. Some are radio-controlled, others wind-powered.

The Boat Pond's killer Yorkies.

Killer Yorkies retire for the day.

The preceding photos in this post are my own. You're welcome to use them as long as you give me credit, by noting with the photo.

A striking photo of the way Central Park's natural landscape is placed against its massively developed surroundings. Photo by David Shankbone. A high resolution copy is here. An informative wiki article on the park and several exceptional photos are here.

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