In the late 1860s and early 1870s, the local government of rapidly growing Brooklyn built Prospect Park, a large public park on its outskirts. During the same period, Brooklyn's local council implemented a plan to connect Prospect Park and New York City's recently built Central Park and to link additional planned public open spaces and parks with a new type of wide, tree-lined street called a parkway. The parkway would serve as a spine for the development of bucolic suburbs, whose residents could then travel to the parks on streets that shared a park-like feel and promoted gregarious social activities, such as promenading. These planned developments anticipated New York City's annexing of Brooklyn in 1896. Brooklyn's Parkway Plan of pleasure drives and promenades was the collaborative undertaking of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Prospect and Central Parks with partner Calvert Vaux and forward-looking park commissioner James S. T. Stranahan. Featuring contemporary architectural drawings and period illustrations, Pleasure Drives and Promenades charts the inception and early implementation of their plan as well as its lasting influence on the urban landscape.
Elizabeth MacDonald is associate professor of urban design at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a registered architect and partner in the firm Cityworks.