If you're from Albany, have only lived in the city for a little while and are still relatively new to the area, or are a visitor, you've probably heard about Washington Park, but do you know the history behind the Washington Park Historic District? Well, if you don't, then this is the article for you!
Washington Park is the premier park of the city and is the site of many festivals and gatherings. As public property, the park dates back to Albany's charter is 1686 and has seen many uses included those of gunpowder storage, parade grounds, and a cemetery. The park is credited with having been designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same man who designed Central Park in Manhattan, but this is incorrect. However, many of Olmsted's philosophical ideas from when he was designing Central Park were used in the design of Washington Park. The park was actually designed by John Bogart (who had worked with Olmsted) and John Cuyler in 1870.
The park is about 81 acres in size and has the Washington Park Lake, which is about 5.2 acres, in the southwest corner.
Not only is the park historic, but so are many of the residential buildings surrounding the park, and some of the buildings were even designed by the famous architect Henry Hobson Richardson. Two governors of New York lived in houses that faced the park outside of their terms in office. Back in 1998, the park was named one of the nation's 100 most important parks by the American Association of Architects.
The streets surrounding Washington Park, State Street to the north, Willett Avenue to the east, Madison Avenue to the south, and South Lake Avenue to the west, along with Englewood Terrace, Thurlow Place, and the residence at 76 Western Avenue to the northwest, are all included in the Washington Park Historic District. Most of the existing properties date to after the 1880s, with very few predating the creation of the park.