newburgh's Central Park


     For 30 years after his death, Newburgh residents showed little appreciation toward the town's most famous citizen (Schuyler 10). Then, in 1887 Mayor Benjamin Odell advocated building a large park in the city. Once the city acquired the land Caroline Downing and several friends lobbied to dedicate the park in her husband's memory. Then they asked Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux to design the park, which the two accepted so long as it would be in Downing's name. In 1897 the park was complete. Tragically, this was one of the last collaborations of the two great designers of New York's Central Park; Vaux drowned and Olmsted moved into an insane asylum.         


the path not taken. . .enough

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     You can't know a place by driving through it or around it. When you get out of your metal cage on wheels and walk on your own two feet, what was once so familiar becomes pleasantly foreign; a new world is born. Click on the icon to take a brief virtual walk through Downing Park. The video (2.4MB) starts at the park's visitor center, which is actually the official visitor center for the City of Newburgh.


poetry inspired by the park (author unknown)


heading up to the terrace /


     Downing Park is full of gradual curves and slopes, none of which are accidental. As I walk up the hillside all signs of urban life—the cars, roads, and houses—disappear. I feel transplanted out of Newburgh and onto a vast, endless strech of land that wraps around to create its own planet. The Irish Potato Famine Memorial in Battery Park City, New York evokes a similar feeling; as you walk up the model Irish hillside, Manhattan disappears. These landscapes demonstrate the precision required in landscape architecture to get a certain effect.

     On top of this hill is a nice view of the Hudson River, which you can see in the second image. The graffiti on the terrace hints at Downing Park's less-than-rosy past. As the city suffered and its budget shrank, so did upkeep of the park. The image below is a clipping of an article titled "Neglected Downing" from an unidenified local newspaper that describes the situation:


polly pond today


     Polly Pond never looked so pristine. Thanks to the dedication of citizens and the Downing Park Planning Committee, the park is returing to its old glory. The city should heavily promote this park in any efforts to market the city to new residents.


two guys enjoying late summer in the fall


central downing park in fall




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