The Historical Society; Elizabeth NJ Inc plans to develop a more substantive investigation in the Olmsted Associates influence on the city’s design. In the 1920s Olmsted Associates, one of the leading landscape firms in the world, designed a Union county Park design, the second such effort in their history (The first was for Essex County, NJ). The principals of the firm at that time were the son and stepson of Frederick Law Olmsted, the famous designer or Central Park in New York City among many other projects.
Warninanco Park, Mattano Park and Westfield Avenue (as a “parkway”) were several of the products of this county design that affected Elizabeth in special ways.
The Society hopes to reconstruct the interchange between Olmsted Associates and Elizabeth officials, including Henry Chatfield, the then chairman of the city’s Park commission. Later city officials dedicated the formal flower garden in Warninanco to Chatfield in appreciation of his foresight and civic commitment.
Exactly how did Elizabeth officials understand the Olmsted legacy and how did they engineer adaptations of it to the city’s needs?
If you’re interested in knowing more about the Olmsted legacy read the talk given by Paul Mattingly (our Board Treasurer) to the National Association of Olmsted Parks.
Different Elizabethans used Warinanco Park in different ways. Here is a 1946 family portrait of recent Portuguese arrivals, resting on the Henry S Chatfield bench. Their family used the park often, especially for Fourth of July fireworks and other celebrations. From left to right: unknown, Manuel Medeiros Sr, Joe Baptista, unknown, Emilia Baptista, Joseph Baptista Sr., Robert Baptista, Olga Botelho, Viola Baptista, Eufronsina Medeiros, Esther Botelho, unknown. Permission courtesy of Robert Baptista.