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Publisher's Summary

The story of how one woman's long love affair with New York's Central Park led her to organize its rescue from a state of serious decline, returning it to the beautiful place of recreational opportunity and spiritual sustenance that it is today.

Elizabeth Barlow Rogers opens with a quick survey of her early life - a middle-class upbringing in Texas; college at Wellesley, marriage, a master's degree in city planning at Yale. And then her move to New York, where she starts a family and, when she finds being a mother and a housewife is not enough, pours herself into the protection and enhancement of the city's green spaces.

Interwoven into her own story is a comprehensive history of Central Park: its design and construction as a scenic masterpiece; the alterations of each succeeding era; the addition of numerous facilities for sports and play; and finally, the "anything goes" phase of the 1960s and 70s, which was often fun but nearly destroyed the park. The two narratives continue to entwine as she finds a job in the administration of Central Park, founds the Central Park Conservancy, and transforms both the park and herself - a transformation that has led to the writing of her many books, to travels that have taken her to parks and gardens around the world, and to solidifying the prestige of one of New York's most conspicuous landmarks.

Cover photograph: copyright © Annie Leibovitz/Vanity Fair/Trunk Archive

©2018 Elizabeth Barlow Rogers (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“[An] elegant memoir... Rogers’s commitment to urban renewal is evident throughout, and her book reads as a heartfelt plea for people to fulfill their responsibilities to maintain green spaces in the cement jungle.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Part history, part memoir, part manifesto on landscape design, the book charts the Central Park Conservancy’s rise, and Rogers’s own.... She woos well-heeled donors and tangles with bird-watchers, she transforms from Texas transplant to...a woman leading a powerful reform group... [But] the book’s true protagonist is the park itself, whose artistic allure Rogers captures with impressive attention to detail... Sure to be cherished by nature lovers, city lovers, and civic improvers alike.” (Sam Kling, Booklist)

“This measured memoir will appeal to New Yorkers who appreciate their central green space, as well as landscape architects and cultural administrators.” (David R. Conn, Library Journal)

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