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The New York Botanical Garden

Botanical Gardens & Conservatories

The New York Botanical Garden
Bronx, New York

The New York Botanical Garden is a 250-acre historic landscape and a National Historic Landmark. In 2004 The New York Botanical Garden commissioned Heritage Landscapes to undertake a landscape history project. The development and enrichment of this public, educational and scientific landscape over the decades was the research topic. Phase I consisted of archival research into this rich history yielding a useful and valuable product in the NYBG Landscape History Chronological Collection of Research Documents, containing over 1,450 plans, maps, surveys, photographs, illustrations, published articles, minutes and unpublished correspondence in some 4000 pages. The New York Botanical Garden Landscape History Report culminates Phase 2 with a highly illustrated chronological narrative in five chapters from origins to the present that includes period plans for 1920, 1937, 1988 and 2005. This overall Garden evolution is complemented by ten chapters addressing the evolution of the gardens and collections to reveal the richness and depth of this significant landscape.

The site of the Garden was chosen for its scenery and suitability as it contained woodlands, meadows, wetlands, a gorge, and a rare old-growth hemlock forest. The Garden retains its origins from the land uses of the Lorillard Snuff Mill, conservation of Bronx Park along the Bronx River, and early Garden planning. The historical record is both rich and deep beginning with the 1895 Garden establishment, design plans of landscape architects Calvert Vaux and John L. Brinley, director Nathaniel Lord Britton. By 1920 the initial Garden development was complete. The contributions of many important horticulturists, scientists and consulting landscape architects have shaped this important landscape. The Garden includes works by John L. Brinley, Beatrix Jones Farrand, Ellen Biddle Shipman, Marian Cruger Coffin, Gilmore Clarke, Daniel Urban Kiley, Robert Zion, and recently Patrick Chasse, and Shavaun Towers, among others.

Marking the first attempt at a comprehensive capture of the Garden evolution, the report addresses four themes throughout; planning, capital projects, collections and land. It includes 1920, 1937, 1988 and 2005 plans developed by Heritage Landscapes from multiple historical and existing sources to illustrate the overall Garden layout throughout its history. The understanding of landscape origins and evolution gained in this research-based work provides a new interpretive lens for the Garden landscape. The intent of the landscape history is to underpin and provide a context for planning, development and visitor interpretation of the NYBG landscape into the future.

The New York Botanical Garden

Landscape History Report, Phase 2; Chronological Collection of Research Documents, Phase I, 2004-05.

Project Credits:
Heritage Landscapes, Preservation Landscape Architects & Planners