New infographics show us how the most famous park on the planet could have been with a more European design. Which one would you have chosen?
It is always easy to think of changing spaces when talking about architecture, so we are not surprised by the morphological changes that cities undergo over the years in which, except for several emblematic buildings, the rest are “substitutable”, creating new complexes of different typologies and uses, adapted to the needs and knowledge of the time, but… is the same with parks? Are we able to understand that they are radically modified or altered?
The best known park in the world is called Central Park and it is, of course, in New York. You may not know it, but one of its main characteristics is that it was born from a contest of ideas in 1858 (you thought that these contests were invented last century, huh?), In which there were no more and no less than 32 proposals , a record if we think that the population of the moment did not reach a million people (today, New York is home to 8.6 million souls).
The winning design was that of FL Olmsted and C. Vaux, who, as another historical curiosity, was presented a day after the delivery deadline and is called «Greensward», the intention of his proposal is to make the visitor experience the sensation of seeing a large expanse of field (green) open up before him. The vote in which she was elected was carried out by a jury of 9 members, six Democrats and three Republicans and the votes that won her were the three Republicans plus one Democrat.
Currently only one of the designs that reached the final survives. But… what were the rules of the contest? In Central Park there should be a parade ground, a fountain, a watchtower, a skating rink, four streets and an area where exhibitions could be held. The winning combination of Olmsted and Vaux created a duplicate of New York State itself, as if it were a microcosm.
The famous magazine Time Out New York shows us fifteen things we would have to do in Central Park, but this, if we had not accepted the late delivery of Vaux and Olmsted, it could have been very different… and these proposals would be conditioned by design that would have been adopted 160 years ago. Now, some new infographics (the best invention of humanity), show us what Central Park could have been like having opted for the design of John J. Rink, entry number 4.
Engineer John J. Rink titled his piece as ‘Versailles Folk Art Fantasy’ in clear allusion to the most famous French palace in the world. It is, therefore, Rink’s design, a clear tribute to Europe, conforming «his» park with symmetrical shapes that he calls «terrains» and that adapt to the morphology of the place, rising or submerging. In this design, the open spaces of the current one would not exist and instead there would be streets in spiral shapes, with a loaded geometric character.
The current Metropolitan Museum of Art was not in John J.’s mind, but in his watercolor and now, in modern infographics, we can appreciate a space reserved for a two-wing museum on the south and east edges of the new reservoir, never We will know how that Metropolitan Museum would have been, but it is clear that space would not have been lacking. Rink also proved to be a good patriot, designating roads, gates, and other items with names of presidents and relevant people in the United States.
The large European garden suggested by Rink was based on symmetry, which from a bird’s-eye view could be somewhat «bland» for current park visitors, accustomed to the chaotic rhythm of the existing one. In one of the images we see one of the most interesting contributions of Rink, right next to the current Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir (the lake) raised a huge water reservoir, next to the only open land of «that» Central Park.
The parks improve the lives of citizens, give them natural spaces where they can exercise, rest, spend good and luxurious moments of leisure, that is why they are emblematic of cities, thinking of a different design for El Retiro park in Madrid or the Park Güell in Barcelona is to think of a different future of the history of those cities. If John J. Rink’s design had been executed, would New York be more European? Maybe yes, maybe not, what is certain is that we will never know, but it is worth recreating our sight with this fantastic unrealized design.
Images courtesy of: Budget Direct Travel