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2021-2022 Programs

We continue to hope for the best by planning events. 

Please pay attention to developments as we might have to make changes with little notice 

due to changes in Covid-19 recommendations.

The History of Washington Park: Dr. John Pipkin 

Thursday September 16, 2 PM 

Delmar Reformed Church   

As part of the Fall Lecture Series, the Bethlehem Historical Association is pleased to present John S. Pipkin giving his talk Washington Park: The Moral High Ground on Thursday, September 16 at 2 p.m. at the Delmar Reformed Church. 386 Delaware Avenue, Delmar.

Washington Park is Albany’s gem of mid-nineteenth century landscape design. It was born at the intersection of aesthetics and social control, as elites in the 1860s and 70s confronted their anxieties about public health, immigration, spreading tenements, and violent urban disorder. We will look at the genteel but spirited debate over the “if” and “where” of the park; at Frederick Law Olmsted’s intervention in 1867; and at the most important maker of the park, William Egerton.

Today’s park is a rich compendium of Victorian landscape aesthetics – pastoral, monumental, and gardenesque. Less obvious are the anxiety-laden mechanisms of social control the park embodied. We will explore how the park’s carefully contrived landscapes invited some kinds of behavior and curtailed others, how the project changed in the making, and how a close look can reveal the hidden traces of its past.

John Pipkin is Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Geography and Planning, University at Albany. He grew up near a Roman road in a small town in England that had received its modern name, and some of its layout, by the sixth century. Then he went to graduate school in suburban Illinois, where most of the built environment was a few decades old. Coming to Albany he was relieved to find historical depth again. He became an enthusiastic student of our rich urban fabric. His interests are in urban design, landscape history, and public space. His early work focused on urban social space and travel behavior. More recently he has dealt with symbolic and ideological aspects of landscape, working in two distinct traditions: cultural geography, and planning history.

The talk is free and open to the public. Masks and social distancing will be required.