Name: Andrew Jackson Downing
Years: October 31, 1815 – July 28, 1852
Residence: Newburgh, NY
Biography: Andrew Jackson Downing was born in Newburgh in 1815 and is regarded as one of the pioneers in American landscape architecture and design. An avid horticulturist, Downing’s father was an expert nurseryman and this propelled Downing toward the study of botany. Downing completed many projects throughout the region, published a journal and books promoting his theories of good design, and is credited for his design of the National Mall at the United States Capitol and the Smithsonian Institute. Downing was a staunch advocate of public parks and for an appreciation of the natural environment in a period of rapid, industrialized change. Downing was also greatly influenced by English horticulturalist and author, J.C. Loudon. Downing would go on to write A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, Adapted to North America, his first book, written in 1841. Downing would later recruit the young artist and architect, Calvert Vaux, subsequently partnering and designing landscapes for estates in the Hudson River Valley and environs. Later, Downing, Vaux, and Frederick Law Olmsted would begin discussions on a design for Central Park in Manhattan to feature a zoo, gardens, art galleries, science museum, and other features. Downing died in 1852 as a result of a steamboat accident en route to Newburgh with his family. Olmsted and Vaux would eventually complete their plans for Manhattan's "Greensward," or Central Park, in 1858.
Accomplishments: Downing is regarded as a pioneer in American landscape architecture and for his advocacy of large urban parks, laying the groundwork for plans for Central Park in New York with the aid of Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmstead.
Additional information and resources:
The Architecture of Country Houses : Including Designs for Cottages, Farm-houses, and Villas, with Remarks on Interiors, Furniture, and the Best Modes of Warming and Ventilating
Cottage Residences, or, A Series of Designs for Rural Cottages and Cottage Villas, and their Gardens and Grounds Adapted to North America
The Fruits and Fruit-trees of America, or, The Culture, Propagation, and Management, in the Garden and Orchard, of Fruit-trees Generally: with Descriptions of all the Finest Varieties of Fruit, Native and Foreign, Cultivated in this Country
Information compiled by Elijah Bender, Marist '18