Andy Brett

521 days ago

The first thing one notices about their design is that, despite its many intricacies and incidents, it is an imaginative whole. The controlling idea was that as soon as one entered the park, one was to forget the city. No elaborate formal gateways would tie the park to the surrounding city, nor would there be anything else that recalled the relentless gridded geometry of the New York street plan. Instead, the drives that led into the park curved at once to the side so that visitors quickly lost sight of the city. Even the park’s one formal feature, the quarter-mile-long mall that leads to Bethesda Terrace, was deliberately skewed at an angle so that it would not reprise the city grid.

The Genius of Winding Paths

Frederick Law Olmsted: Plans and Views of Public Parks edited by charles e. beveridge, lauren meier, and irene mills johns hopkins, 448 pages, $74.95 The achievement of Frederick Law Olmsted is so stupendous that one cannot stand far enough back to take it all in.