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Gardens of Eden

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 | All Events (see all) 2811 Mount Rainier Drive South

Spend an evening learning about some remarkably progressive approaches to housing the growing metropolises in the Northeast and Northwest—Long Island, New York, and Seattle, Washington, to be exact. They share a number of commonalities in developments motivated by altruism, idealism, arts, golf, and the almighty dollar.  The lecture will lead to discussion about how developers and communities are succeeding and failing in creating livable environments today that will prosper.

Gardens of Eden: Long Island’s Early Twentieth-Century Planned Communities | Dr. Robert B. MacKay
Dr. Robert B. MacKay, former director of the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, was editor and one of several expert authors for Gardens of Eden (Norton, 2015).  While the onset of suburbia on Long Island is often believed to be a post-World War II phenomena, it actually began a half century earlier when greater affluence, improved railroad service, and new methods of financing made the dream of country living a greater reality for a growing urban middle class. Touted as an antidote to the complexities of urban living, these “residential parks” were characterized by significant investment in landscaping and infrastructure and employed concepts introduced by the Garden City movement in England.

MacKay covers the history and development of more than twenty of these remarkable communities and the colorful, at times unscrupulous personalities behind them—like Plandome, designed “for teachers only,” and the Metropolitan Museum’s Munsey Park, where all the streets were named for artists. These developments, with their sophisticated casinos, yacht harbors, and recreational opportunities, represent every imaginable architectural style, from Craftsman bungalows and Colonial Revival mansions to replicas of old Europe to exotic Spanish and Moorish haciendas to Venetian palazzos on man-made canals.

Seattle: The City Beautiful | Lawrence Kreisman
Lawrence Kreisman, Program Director at Historic Seattle and co-author of The Arts and Crafts Movement in the Pacific Northwest, The Stimson Legacy: Architecture in the Urban West, and Tradition and Change on Seattle’s First Hill, continues the evening’s topic by discussing this brash and youthful region’s response to urban pressures and new communication and transportation opportunities, though not on the massive scale or with the deep pockets of Long Island’s developers. He examines the entrepreneurship of James Moore and his Millionaire’s Row; the impact of the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition and the platting of streetcar suburbs; the city’s commitment to the 1903 Olmsted Park and Boulevard plan in opening up new neighborhoods to development, such as Mount Baker Park and University Park; the growth of outlying suburbs along the interurban commuter lines and new highways, such as Lake Forest Park to the north; summer homes reached by boat at Three Tree Point and Restoration Point, Bainbridge Island; Alfred Renfro and Frank Calvert’s only partially realized dream of an idealistic community of artists, Beaux Arts Village on the east shore of Lake Washington; the upper class private golf community in wooded scenic acreage, The Highlands, laid out by the Olmsted Brothers; and David Whitcomb’s Woodway enclave further north with its expansive estate lawns and gardens.

Photo of Beaux Arts Village by Larry Kreisman

Co-sponsor: Mount Baker Community Club

$35 general public / $25members

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March 9, 2016
6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
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Mount Baker Community Club
2811 Mount Rainier Drive South + Google Map