Finally, now more than 25 years after Strawberry Fields in Central Park was opened to the public, the full history behind this special area dedicated to John Lennon has been documented in a new book called "Strawberry Fields: Central Park's Memorial to John Lennon." The book, released earlier this year, is written by Sara Cedar Miller, the official photographer and historian of the Central Park Conservancy.
The 95-page square-shaped book is filled with gorgeous color photos as well as historical documents and black & white photos that chronicle the creation of this memorial to John Lennon. Located across from the Dakota apartment building where Lennon lived with wife Yoko Ono, Strawberry Fields now encompasses the pathways that John and Yoko used to stroll together in the years before Lennon's death in December 1980.
See photos of Strawberry Fields in New York
The idea for 'Strawberry Fields' was conceived by Ono to be an international garden of peace. While the blurb in most travel books states that the famous grey and white marble Imagine mosaic was a gift from the City of Naples, Italy, most do not explain the backstory. In this book, we learn that the mosaic was Yoko's idea and that she "selected an ancient mosaic design found in Naples and placed the word Imagine in the center. The people of Naples were delighted, and artisans were dispatched to Strawberry Fields to inlay the Imagine mosaic medallion, faithfully copying the design Yoko had chosen."
While most people think of the Imagine mosaic section as the major part of Strawberry Fields, there are actually 5.3 acres in total that make up the whole of the area (there is a full map on the back of the book's dust cover). For the landscape design of the area, Yoko worked with landscape architect, Bruce Kelly, to create a fitting memorial to John Lennon that was "more nature than culture."
In August 1981, Ono placed letters in the New York Times and many other newspapers asking for donations from other countries to create this peace garden. Many countries sent native plants; for example, an oak tree from Great Britain, dogwoods from Monaco, tulip bulbs from the Netherlands, maples from Canada, etc. And, of course, strawberries were planted by the Central Park Conservancy.
It was Yoko's intention to continue the world peace sentiment that she and Lennon had initiated in 1969 which included planting an acorn in England and then sending acorns to heads of state around the world. In her 1981 letter, Ono said, "John would have been very proud that this was given to him, an island named after his song, rather than a statue or a monument....It will be nice to have the whole world in one place, one field, living and growing together in harmony."
For Beatles fans as well as fans of Central Park, this book is the perfect souvenir to take home with you after a visit to Strawberry Fields or give as a gift. The book is available online from Barnes and Noble as well as the Central Park gift shop.