Landscape Gardening

In the nineteenth century, landscaped parks and public areas were increasingly common. This was part of the craze for urban redesign, at the time the most famous was the complete rearrangement of Paris. However, for the American public, the apparently natural but actually designed landscapes of the great English estates were even more popular. This was due in no small part to Frederick Law Olmsted, whose designs for New York’s Central Park, Boston’s Fens, and Montreal’s Mont-Royale were all well-known. The desire for these parks was largely a response to the increasing size of the cities and the vanishing forested landscape, the rarity of which increased its romance. One of the main elements of these parks was the carriage drive. These were designed so that carriages could be comfortable driven through the interesting areas of the parks. They tend to have fairly gentle, steady grades and curves whose radii are designed to handle a four-in-hand coach at an easy trot, or for a little more fun, a pair of horses at a faster pace. But never so tight as to jostle the passengers. Another element is the use of uncut stone, a natural look, for bridges, walls and culverts.

The landscaped park through which one could happily drive a carriage was not confined to the great cities, however. Private landowners also wanted to build carriage drives and landscaped estates. New Hartford is privileged to have access to a property which has such a carriage drive: Jones Mountain. Today the carriage drive is only used for people on foot, but its presence is a reminder of the nineteenth century and the beginning of people’s interest in natural recreation.

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