This is the ultimate field guide to the trees and landscapes of Central Park, with a lively, authoritative text and over 900 color photographs, botanical plates, and extraordinarily detailed maps. Under the direction of the Central Park Conservancy, the park’s landscapes have been painstakingly restored to achieve the effects envisioned more than 150 years ago by the park’s designers, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. This book highlights the leading role that trees play in defining 22 of these landscapes and chronicles the history of each of more than 200 tree species and varieties present in the park-where it came from and where the most outstanding specimens are located. Besides being a superb guide to the world’s greatest center-city park, this book is a highly informative guide to most of the tree species commonly encountered in the eastern United States. Anyone who loves trees will find this book a very rewarding read, full of fascinating details and beautiful illustrations. Central Park Trees and Landscapes is divided into two major sections: “The Landscapes” opens with a geological account of Manhattan Island-from its position 500 million years ago on the edge of the proto-North American continent to its emergence about 15,000 years ago from the Laurentide Ice Sheet. The effects that human inhabitants had on the ecology of the island are described-from the burning of field stubble by Native Americans to the clearing of forest trees by Europeans. Next, the narrative focuses on the land that would eventually become Central Park-how it was saved from being dissected by John Randel’s rigid street grid and how Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux became the park’s designers. The heart of the section is devoted to the construction of the park in the late 1850s and 1860s. Twenty-two of the park’s grand landscapes are pictured in dozens of photographs and in seven detailed maps pinpointing nearly 20,000 trees. Readers can identify each tree on the maps by species using the Tree Maps Key (located on the back of the front flap). “The Tree Guide” contains informative essays full of intriguing botanical and historical facts on over 200 of the park’s tree species and varieties. Each two-page entry features illustrations of leaves, fruits, flowers, and bark as well as a striking portrait photograph of a park tree. The entries are organized into groups by leaf shapes shown on an easy-to-use identification key (located inside the front cover).
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