When A Road Is More Than Just A Road

Brooklyn’s Ocean Parkway is one of America’s most 'elegant' roads. Designed by landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux to replicate the grand European Boulevards; opened in 1876, it was designated a landmark by NYC 100 years later

"Elegant and sketchy, welcoming and insular, the striated band of roadway, trees and people called Ocean Parkway both reflects Brooklyn and divides it with a thick green line. It was designed about a century and a half ago as a place to promenade, to socialize, to pleasure-drive or to settle, on a street that looks like a park. The architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux were inspired by the grand tree-lined boulevards of Europe, like Avenue Foch in Paris and Unter den Linden in Berlin.

Elizabeth Macdonald, an associate professor at the University of California at Berkeley who has written extensively about Ocean Parkway, noted that Olmsted and Vaux imagined a huge system of parks connected by parkways. The two served different purposes: A park was for reflection, and a parkway was for recreation. Ocean Parkway was completed in 1876. The first attractions were roadhouses - places to rest and have a drink - for the pleasure-strollers and those headed to or from the racetracks that once stood in the area. In 1975, the parkway was designated a landmark by the city."

Full Story: A Tree-Lined Boulevard That’s a Park and a Living Room



Robert Moses And Ocean Parkway

They don't mention that Ocean Parkway was declared a landmark after Robert Moses destroyed the one-mile-or-so of the parkway nearest to Prospect Park and replaced it with a freeway (the Prospect Expressway). Olmstead considered Prospect Park his greatest creation, and Moses destroyed its connection with Olmstead's Ocean Parkway. The people who landmarked the parkway wanted to prevent similar damage from being done to the rest of it.

Sorry, but I can never resist getting in a dig at Robert Moses.

Charles Siegel

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