Reimaginging the City: Washington Square Arboretum, a photo by Edu-Tourist on Flickr.
There are many cities besides the one that visitors glimpse through the lens of the guided tour. Old American cities like Philadelphia repay multiple visits and an openness to serendipity. On my quick visit yesterday I had time to kill before visiting with a potential masters student for a lunchtime chat. Following my geographical instincts, I happened upon Washington Square, renowned for its role as a publishing mecca - on the east side once can admire the ornate facade of J. B. Lippincott. Today there is much discussion of regreening the city as a strategy to fight climate change. Part of the solution is reimagining parks like Washington Square can be found in their history - perhaps we can find direction for the future cacooned in our collective past?
"In the 17th century, when the Square first appeared in the city plan, streams drained into a deep gully in front of you. Then, beginning in 1833, geometric paths invited visitors into a leveled square planted with hundreds of trees.
"By 1846, Washington Square, with its seats, lamps and ornamental fences, had dramatically changed from the “offensive nuisance” of the 18th century into “a beautiful and fashionable promenade” where adults strolled and children played marbles.
"In 1853, American landscape architect Andrew Jackson Dowling’s Rural Essays praised Washington Square, reporting that it had 'more well grown specimens of different species of forest trees than any similar space of ground in America'."