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A new facsimile edition of a classic work on New York’s architectural masterpiece—Central Park As growing numbers of people are visiting Central Park and a wide range of New Yorkers are drawn into its restoration, researchers and enthusiasts have turned repeatedly to one special book: A Description of the New York Central Park. It tells a story that began in 1858 when landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won the competition to design New York City’s most democratic environment. When the book was conceived in the mid-1860s, Olmsted and Vaux were battling to defend their plan. Threats to the park included a proposal to build ornate entrances, suggestive of French imperialism, and a proliferation of sculptures and monuments that were intruding in an otherwise natural setting. The volume’s author, Clarence C. Cook, a noted Victorian art critic, was the designers’ ally in their cause. As Maureen Meister reveals in her new Introduction, evidence suggests that Olmsted and Vaux instigated the book’s publication and advised Cook on what he wrote. This delightful facsimile edition offers much to the modern reader. Complementing Cook’s lively, often wry, text are the original images that were prepared by Albert Fitch Bellows. They depict many sites that still survive in the park today along with features that have been lost over time and long-lost structures that have been rebuilt recently. Together the text and illustrations are an homage to a magnificent public park that has come to be regarded as New York City’s greatest achievement and a model for the nation.



With an Introduction by

Maureen Meister

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Written by CLARENCE C. COOK Introduction by MAUREEN MEISTER

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A Description of the New York Central Park

CLARENCE C. COOK (1828-1900) was a prominent American author and art critic. Born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, Cook graduated from Harvard in 1849 and settled in New York City. His other titles include The House Beautiful: Essays on Beds and Tables, Stools and Candlesticks and Art and Artists of Our Time. MAUREEN MEISTER is an art historian who has taught for many years at Boston area universities including Tufts, Lesley, and Northeastern. She is the author of Arts and Crafts Architecture: History and Heritage in New England and Architecture and the Arts and Crafts Movement in Boston: Harvard’s H. Langford Warren; and the editor of H. H. Richardson: The Architect, His Peers, and Their Era.

MAY 2017 240 PAGES 105 black & white illustrations CLOTH • 978-1-4798-7746-1 • $25.00T (£20.99) A Washington Mews Imprint NEW YORK CITY • TRAVEL WWW.NYUPRESS.ORG



NYU Press Spring 2017  
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