Monday, November 16, 2009

Washington Park

One of two large downtown parks, Washington Park is Albany's most formal urban green space. In addition to large grassy areas, trees, playgrounds, and tennis courts, the park includes a lake and lake house, an outdoor amphitheater, sculpture and monuments, and is home to the annual May Tulip Festival and other events throughout the summer.

Corning Tower seen from Washington Park.

The park is lined on all sides by residential neighborhoods that include some beautiful nineteenth century brownstones and townhouses, and it is within walking distance of the state capitol and the Empire State Plaza.

Washington Park lake house, built in 1876.

Washington Park was designed in 1868 by Frederick Law Olmstead, the famed landscape architect who also designed New York City's Central Park. The park's design is typical of its era, intended to look "natural" while being anything but, with curvilinear roads and pathways, grassy meadows and woodsy stands of tall trees.

The statue of Moses. I don't know why.

After a hundred and forty years, the surviving trees are gloriously mature and the park looks like it has always been there. And for all intents and purposes, it has. One section of the park includes meticulously maintained beds of tulips in honor of the city's Dutch heritage. The color show each spring is magnificent.

A footbridge over the lake.

The park's lake hosts ducks and swans in the summer months, and the ubiquitous gray squirrels collect fallen acorns and the occasional peanut from passersby. Kids play in the park, joggers jog along the paths, and cyclists share the park roads with cars. I'm not sure why cars are even allowed in the park; it's not too big to drive around. But I did drive into the park myself and left my car there while I walked around.

Fall in the park.


  1. Fabulous pictures. In some ways a city can be judged by the quality of its parks. If they are well-kept and appreciated by the citizens that shows that people are proud of their town.

    Autumn is a good time to visit parks. The shapes and colours are so spectacular. One of my favourite memories is of walking through Central Park in New York on a crisp and sunny November morning.

  2. Hi there,

    Recently I've had terrible knee pain, and find myself grateful for natural beauty that can be experienced from a car. I used to love to walk and hike, so I've done my years of sightseeing on foot. Now I very much appreciate the chance to see things without having to suffer. Thanks for the lovely pictures.

    I'm selecting "anonymous" for my comment since I don't have a google account, but I'm Lynn from Oregon.

  3. Olmsted did the architectural landscaping of the park on Mount Royal in Montréal also.

  4. jean, I agree, and winter can be very pretty, too, especially right after a snowfall.

    lynn, there is an advantage to car access, that is true. Thanks for stopping by!

    beaver, yes, I saw that. And I've been to the park in Montréal, but it was many years ago.

    michael, thanks!


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