From Publishers Weekly
Miller is the park's official historian and photographer, and her authority shows, revealing some new facets to this most overexposed of urban spaces. Original plans and drawings (many published for the first time) sit alongside modern-day photographs among the more than 200 color illustrations, creating a sense of the history that underlies this man-made urban landscape. Frederick Law Olmsted, one of the park's designers (the other was Calvert Vaux), saw his plan as a balm to soothe the roiling city's ills. Miller finds him remarking that the park "exercises a distinctly harmonizing and refining influence upon the most lawless classes of the city-an influence favorable to courtesy, self-control, and temperance." Bethesda Terrace was Vaux's ideological baby and, according to Miller, was influenced by the work of John Ruskin, Alexander von Humboldt and Thomas Cole. Kenneth T. Jackson, president of the New-York Historical Society, writes in his preface that Central Park is not the oldest public open space in either the world or the United States, nor is it the largest, nor even the most beautiful, yet it has the most contrast to its surroundings, an expression of a city's life and exuberance, and is properly celebrated as such by Miller.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
There is more to Central Park than meets the eye or is seen at the movies: 843 acres of prime, green land in the middle of one of the most important cities of the world. And man-made too, the landscape sculpted by thousands of men over twenty years to create a haven in the midst of a bustling city. Originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, it has continued to evolve for 150 years and this superb book has been produced to celebrate this great piece of art, this American earthwork, in all its glory. Author and photographer Sara Cedar Miller, the official historian and photographer for the Central Park Conservancy, expertly leads the reader through its labyrinthine walkways, exploring the avenues, terraces, meadows and ravines, all beautifully encapsulated within her stunning photographs. Little known hideaways and gardens are revealed, accompanied by their history and examinations of their wildlife and flora. It is a marvel that this can survive in the midst of New York City and is a testament to the Conservancy of their care and management. Archival footage reveals the evolution of this great garden over the last century and a half and this work will no doubt become a valuable reference for future generations in its continuing development of this American masterpiece. - Lucy Watson