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Historic Thompson Park - Watertown, NY
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member mTn_biKer65
N 43° 57.967 W 075° 53.363
18T E 428653 N 4868493
Quick Description: Historic Thompson Park is an historic Olmsted Creation, located with entrances off Gotham St, Academy St and Franklin St in Watertown, NY.
Location: New York, United States
Date Posted: 4/3/2013 5:19:42 AM
Waymark Code: WMGR26
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 3

Long Description:
The historic Thompson Park is a large, city-owned public park featuring tennis courts, playgrounds, a public pool, multiple picnic areas, large open fields which host various sports and activities, an 18-hole golf course, multiple hiking trails, and many picturesque views of the city of Watertown and surrounding areas due to its very high elevation. During the winters in Watertown, the park offers many large hills for sledding, as well as multiple cross-country skiing trails throughout the park and surrounding forests. Each summer, Thompson Park hosts a firework show and live symphony orchestra show on the Fourth of July.

Watertown is the smallest city to have a park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.

Originally called “Watertown Park” on its architectural drawings, what we now call “Thompson Park” was referred to as “City Park” for the first 25 years of its existence. The park was the brainchild of local industrialist John C. Thompson, the secretary and treasurer of Watertown’s New York Air Brake Company.

In 1899, Mr. Thompson decided to make a generous donation to Watertown’s citizens. Perhaps influenced by the City Beautiful philosophy that was in full swing by then, Mr. Thompson resolved that his gift would take the form of a public park and green space for all people to enjoy. His frequent business trips to Manhattan had him familiar with Central Park and its designer, Frederick Law Olmsted. Mr. Thompson wrote to Mr. Olmsted, who had by then retired from the landscape architecture field, asking for a recommendation of a firm to design what Thompson originally envisioned to be a 75- to 100-acre park in Northern New York.

Mr. Olmsted was a mighty figure and, as such, deserves special mention. He has long been acknowledged as the Father of American Landscape Architecture. While there were other landscape architects who preceded him in North America, none had left as large a legacy as he, altering the face of our country through his living designs.

Indeed, Mr. Olmsted designed some of the most famous green spaces in America. Besides Central Park, which was his first commission in 1858, he also designed the landscape of the George Vanderbilt II’s Biltmore Estate outside Asheville, N.C. — his last and largest private commission constructed between 1889 and 1895. Among many others, Mr. Olmsted also is credited with the designs for Prospect Park in Brooklyn, the Emerald Necklace in Boston, the campuses of Yale, Cornell, and Stanford universities, as well as the University of Chicago, and the grounds of the United States Capitol building.

Mr. Olmsted retired in 1895 due to failing health and passed control of his firm to his son, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., and step-son, John C. Olmsted. The firm then became known as Olmsted Brothers and remained a leader in landscape architecture until the 1980s. Olmsted Brothers also was the firm that Frederick Olmsted recommended to Mr. Thompson for the design of his park.

Designs for the park began in July 1899 after Mr. Thompson purchased land colloquially referred to as “The Pinnacle” on the northwest edge of the Tug Hill Plateau. The land already was a popular overlook and at the time that Mr. Thompson bought it, a combination of forest and open pastures. Watertown’s mayor and City Council endorsed the park scheme. However, a condition of the gift was that all who knew of Mr. Thompson’s identity as the donor were to keep it secret.
Type of Public Space: Park

Job Number: 00175

Architect: Frederick Law Olmsted

Visit Instructions:
There are no specific visit requirements, however telling about your visit is strongly encouraged. Additional photos of the park to add to the gallery are also nice, but not required. Pictures with a GPS or you in them is highly discouraged.
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Recent Visits/Logs:
Date Logged Log  
jiggs11 visited Historic Thompson Park - Watertown, NY 2/24/2014 jiggs11 visited it