Library of American Landscape History
|220 pages | 7 x 10 inches
|$26.00 | Paper
|116 b&w photos and drawings
“Bright, cheerful houses, well arranged, well trimmed lawns, hedging carefully cut . . . distinctly joyous,” wrote architectural critic Herbert Croly in 1914 about the Forest Hills Gardens community in Queens, New York. The New York Tribune agreed, reporting that the place was a “modern Garden of Eden, a fairy tale too good to be true.”
Conceived as an experiment that would apply the new “science” of city planning to a suburban setting, Forest Hills Gardens was created by the Russell Sage Foundation to provide housing for middle-class commuters as an alternative to cramped flats in New York City. Although it has long been recognized as one of the most influential planned communities in the United States, this is the first time Forest Hills Gardens has been the subject of a book.
Susan L. Klaus’s fully illustrated history chronicles the creation of the 142-acre development from its inception in 1909 through its first two decades, offering critical insights into American planning history, landscape architecture, and the social and economic forces that shaped housing in the Progressive Era. Klaus focuses particularly on the creative genius of Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., who served as planner and landscape architect for the project. Drawing on his father’s visionary ideas but developing his own perspective, the younger Olmsted redefined planning for the modern era and became one of the founders of the profession of city planning in the United States.
“Forest Hills Gardens, a remarkable suburban enclave in New York City and one of the finest planned communities ever, finally receives the attention it deserves in Susan L. Klaus’s carefully researched and fascinating account that also sheds light on the career of Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., too long in the shadow of his pioneering father.”
“The scholarship in this work is exceptionally thorough. . . . A Modern Arcadia will make a significant contribution to the fields of landscape and planning history.”
“A Modern Arcadia illuminates the fascinating intersection of social and aesthetic reform movements in the Progressive Era, as well as the early career of a prolific and influential planner and landscape architect.”
“In A Modern Arcadia, Susan Klaus offers the first scholarly history of the origins and early development of Forest Hills Gardens, the internationally famous residential enclave begun in 1909 in the Borough of Queens in New York City. Interwoven with this story is the best account yet published of the early career of Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., highlighting his successor role to his eminent father and his rise to leadership in the emergent discipline of city planning. In both respects, Klaus makes noteworthy contributions to the history of American planning and community design.”
2002 New York City Library Book Award for Landscape History
2003 Historic Preservation Book Award
About the Author
Susan L. Klaus
Susan L. Klaus is an independent scholar with particular interest in urban and landscape history. She has published numerous articles on Olmsted Jr. and the work of the Olmsted firm.