Authors explore the history of Philadelphia's Fairmount Park
James McClelland and Lynn Miller will discuss their book during the Philadelphia Flower Show.
With the 2016 Philadelphia Flower Show as a backdrop, James McClelland and Lynn Miller, authors of City in a Park, will lead a discussion of the complex history of the city’s Fairmount Park System. Their talk, which will also describe how national and urban parks connect citizens to nature and to healthful places of recreation, is scheduled for Tuesday, March 8, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
Co-author McClelland said William Penn—who envisioned a “greene countrie towne” when first planning out Philadelphia’s grid—“would be shocked at how large the city has become, but I think also pleased at how green it is.”
“I think the Fairmount Park system will always be a work in progress—I don’t think there ever be a time when it’s considered ‘done,’” said McClelland, also executive director emeritus of the Philadelphia Art Alliance. “The recent city administrations and greening programs throughout the city all help to maintain the park system.”
The Fairmount Park system may not be the park you think you know. It is not just the Water Works, where the roots of the park system run deep; or the Philadelphia Zoo; or the preserved 18th century villas; or Boathouse Row; or the hiking trails along the Wissahickon Creek; or the Ben Franklin Parkway. It is all of these things and more, according to the authors.
“The whole Fairmount Park system began as an effort to protect the growing city’s water supply. It started as a small landscaped park surrounding the first pumping station, part of the modern world’s first public water system,” Miller said. “The Fairmount Park of today consists of nearly 11,000 acres—120 neighborhood parks are part of this complex system. It is largest urban landscaped park in the United States and it is enjoying a real rejuvenation today.”
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