A page from our guide to trees in Pastorius Park. Email us for a 8-page PDF copy of the whole thing. by Ned Bernard and Pauline Gray Parks can be sanity savers when times are difficult. Forbidden …
by Ned Bernard and Pauline Gray
Parks can be sanity savers when times are difficult. Forbidden Drive is busier than ever these days as people seek fresh air and exercise. Pastorius Park offers benches for people looking for a few minutes of quiet contemplation without digital interruptions. This popular neighborhood park also provides frazzled parents with green space where children can romp in the sun (whenever the clouds break).
We are avid fans of urban parks. As long-time residents of Manhattan, my wife and I maintained our sanity and equanimity by frequently visiting Central Park. In my retirement from book editing, I spent 10 years writing and illustrating a guide to Central Park’s trees.
After moving to Chestnut Hill, we found its open spaces and tree-shaded streets particularly appealing. And we greatly enjoyed summer concerts in Pastorius Park, which seemed to us to be a little gem of a park. However, it was only after attending a fascinating illustrated talk on the park by landscape architect Robert Fleming that we began to fully appreciate this exceptionally lovely 16-acre open space.
Its history has striking parallels to the history of Central Park: it was surrounded by developing residential blocks; it was in danger of being sliced into pieces by streets extending north from the city center; the land owners (the Woodwards), uncertain about what to do with it, hired the Olmsted Brothers’ firm, founded by the designer of Central Park, to create plans for border plantings; finally schemes for bisecting streets were abandoned.
In 1935 an inspired young landscape architect, Frederick Peck, drew up a plan for the park, which was underwritten and completed by the federal government’s Works and Progress Administration (you can find Peck’s original two-part Pastorius planting plan online). Finally, just like Central Park, Pastorius Park in the 1980s fell into disrepair. Rob Fleming developed a master plan to restore it, which was supported by the Friends of Pastorius Park under the leadership of the late Quita Woodward Horan and the Chestnut Hill Community Association.
Recently, with this sequence of events in mind, we decided to explore Pastorius Park to see what tree species are in the park now and which ones remain from early plantings.
If you would like a pdf file of an eight-page guide and map to 23 tree species in Pastorius Park, send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Also included in the guide is a quiz requiring identification of three plants in Pastorius Park. The first three people to send us the correct answers will receive free copies of Philadelphia Trees.