Central Park New Deal Sites - Photo #77 - The Conservatory Garden


Central Park's Conservatory Garden: the North Garden, seen from its “back door”.

Lynden Miller, public garden designer and board member of the Central Park Conservancy who rescued and restored the Conservatory Garden from near-fatal neglect in the 1980s, writes[2]:

In September 1937 the Conservatory Garden at 105th Street and Fifth Avenue in Central Park opened to front-page fanfare in the New York Times. It was designed by the aptly named M. Betty Sprout and her colleague [and future husband] Gilmore Clarke, landscape architects working with the New York City Parks Department. Created many years after Frederick Law Olmstead's and Calvert Vaux's splendid naturalistic design for the rest of the park, this fine formal six-acre garden in the park's northen end was one of the early New York City projects of the Works Projects Administration (WPA), the program established in 1935 under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to create jobs during the Great Depression. The Conservatory Garden takes its name from the complex of large glass conservatories (greenhouses for floral display) built on the site in 1899 and taken down in 1934 because of their high maintenance costs. Under the direction of Robert Moses, parks commissioner from 1934 to 1968, the garden was built in their place. Moses hired hundreds of gardeners to work for the Parks Deptartment — many of them Italian immigrants who had lost their jobs at the great estates around the city during the Depression — and some of them worked in this formal garden.

Betty Sprout divided the Conservatory into three sections, each inspired