Seeing Central Park: The Official Guide to the World’s Greatest Urban Park, by Sara Cedar Miller. New York: Abrams, 2009. 192 pp. $21.95 (hardcover).
Many people assume that Central Park, unlike the city of steel and concrete surrounding it, is a stretch of Manhattan that’s been left untouched by developers. In fact, the park is virtually as man-made a development as the neighboring skyscrapers. Sara Cedar Miller highlights this fact in her informative and eye-catching book Seeing Central Park: The Official Guide to the World’s Greatest Urban Park.
The official historian and photographer for Central Park Conservancy (the private organization that operates the park for the city of New York), Miller notes that everything from its lakes, ponds, and streams to boulder-ridden woodlands and expansive meadows is the work of its 19th-century codesigners, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. For instance, she writes about the park’s Sheep Meadow: “Originally a rocky and swampy terrain, the designers transformed the landscape into a pastoral meadow by blasting the outcrops and adding four feet of soil to the fifteen-acre site” (62). . . .