Ellison Park has the beauty of natural woodlands combined with steep slopes and the level flood plain of the Irondequoit Creek. It is one of Rochester’s most frequented but little understood parks.
Officially the first Monroe County Park, Ellison Park came into being in December of 1926. The county accepted approximately 200 acres of land from Mr. and Mrs. Frank T. Ellison in memory of Mr. Ellison’s father, Nathaniel. Ellison Park has been the hub of many historical events and locations. Indian Landing which was located on Irondequoit Creek, for many years was used by the indigenous Seneca as the beginning of the portage route which stretched along Ellison Park.
The Lost City of Tryon, originally founded in hopes of creating a commercial settlement, used the Irondequoit Creek for trade. A store was built that bartered with the Seneca Indians, beginning its trading roots.
Many people are familiar with the architectural and landscape design accomplishments of Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903). What many people do not know is that Frederick Law Olmsted was a brave journalist, correspondent, and intelligence analyst of sorts for the paper which would become the New York Times. Decades before civil war broke out, Olmsted traveled to the Southern states, where he covered that region’s lifestyle, assessed the conditions of slaves on the plantations, and provided a honest look at a world most people living north of the Mason Dixie Line had never seen. Olmsted’s articles, essays, and other forms of communication were very influential in shaping public opinion against slavery.
Olmsted’s landscape designs reflect his deepest beliefs about the equality of all people. His works are testimonies to his belief that we all have an inherent right to gather in public spaces as free citizens. This was central to his artistic philosophy. Olmsted built parks which not only invited people to congregate, conversate, and communion with one another, he also designed spaces which would foster the feeling of democracy in the minds and bodies of visitors.
More than an architect, Olmsted was a visionary. He saw not only where America had come from, but where it was heading and why it needed to go there. He was not just a lover of plants and trees for their own sake. No mere preservationist. He was an artist who re-imagined the symbolic meaning of plants and trees, and he then turned them into emblems of civic virtue-namely, beauty, cooperation, growth, harmony, utility, regeneration, and hope. These were the virtues which Olmsted lived by, and every single one of his parks embodies these virtues in a way that continues to inspire people all over the world.
Olmsted once said, “The possession of arbitrary power has always, the world over, tended irresistibly to destroy humane sensibility, magnanimity, and truth.”
The power of his parks was always equal to the power of the people’s spirit. When people not only love and respect their own natural gifts, but love and respect the gifts of others because they are also part of nature, that is when we are truly ourselves. That is when we are truly American.
All Photographs by George Payne
City of Rochester | Genesee Valley Park
Along with Highland and Seneca Parks, Genesee Valley Park was designed by Olmsted. Here, he showcased the naturally occurring, rolling pastoral fields of the area when he planned the 800+ acre park. A favorite spot for golfers, crew teams, kayakers, and cross-country skiers, Genesee Valley Park is one of the oldest parks in the area.
As the father of our nation’s first municipal park, state park, and national park, Olmsted had his fingerprints all over the cultural and spiritual landscape of the American dream. The dream was that every human being would learn the simple joys of walking through a meadow, the boundless pleasures of contemplating ripples on the surface of a pond, listening to the melodies of finches and larches, and meeting an old friend or an interesting stranger under the canopy of hemlock leaves.
Highland Park | Monroe County, NY
Highland Park is actually a completely planned—and planted—arboretum or “tree garden.” In addition to over 1200 lilac shrubs, the park boasts a Japanese Maple collection, 35 varieties of sweet-smelling magnolias, a barberry collection, a rock garden with dwarf evergreens, 700 varieties of rhododendron, azaleas, mountain laurel and andromeda, horse chestnuts, spring bulbs and wildflowers and a large number of trees. The park’s pansy bed features 10,000 plants, designed into an oval floral “carpet” with a new pattern each year.
Olmsted designed this unique 297 acre park with the picturesque Genesee River in mind. Seneca Park provides three picnic shelters, the newly renovated Wegman Lodge, playgrounds, scenic views of the Genesee River gorge, hiking trails, open fields and large pond with a paved walking path.
The Maplewood neighborhood is unique among all city neighborhoods in combining the architectural grandeur of intact avenues, urban landscapes designed by the internationally acclaimed firm of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. and Company, and the natural beauty of the Lower Falls of the Genesee. 3 elements, our building environment, our landscaped environment, and our natural environment combined give Maplewood its enduring charm.
America’s Oldest State Park | Niagara Falls State Park
The leader of the Free Niagara movement was America’s first landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted. Olmsted believed that parks should be places of natural beauty, where “the masses could be renewed.” This philosophy was applied throughout Olmstead’s landscape design for Niagara Falls State Park, with an entire network of footpaths through wooded areas and along the banks of the Niagara River. Today, the oldest American state park retains Olmsted’s vision by staying committed to maintaining native vegetation, preserving its unparalleled vistas and providing public access.http://www.niagarafallsstatepark.com/Americas-Oldest-State-Park.aspx
Rochester was once at the center of the burned-over district. This refers to the western and central regions of New York in the early 19th century, where religious revivals and the formation of new religious movements of the Second Great Awakening took place.
From the beginning of Rochester’s incorporation as a city in 1837, it has been dominated by Christianity. The pictures below attempt to capture the beauty, power, reverence, social unity, pomp, sobriety, dignity, humanitarianism, magic, materialism, mysticism, lightheartedness, and perhaps sublimity of this religious influence.
You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself.
Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.
It is wonderful how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow men, the devil would die in his own tracks of ennui.
There is nothing evil save that which perverts the mind and shackles the conscience.
I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit. Khalil Gibran
Religion kept some of my relatives alive, because it was all they had. If they hadn’t had some hope of heaven, some companionship in Jesus, they probably would have committed suicide, their lives were so hellish.
Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.
Rochester Free Radio is a community, non-commercial radio station run by volunteers to provide locally-focused, locally-created information, conversation and entertainment. The goal of RFR is to help solidify the Rochester community by enjoying and celebrating our similarities and differences; our strengths and weaknesses; our ideas and curiosities.
Rochester Free Radio, was created by three members of the community, each with varying degrees of experience in broadcast radio and community activism. Chuck McCoy, Jeff Moulton and Dave Sutliff-Atias recognized the need for opportunities for unheard individuals and groups to be heard by the rest of Rochester.
Rochester Free Radio broadcasts so that everyone in our community has the chance to interact and exchange ideas for the betterment of the entire community; in particular, those who do not presently have a voice in our local mainstream media.
For the past year I have been recording taped and live podcasts on Rochester Free Radio. I call my show The Broken Spear Vision. It has a social justice theme and airs every Sunday at 12:30 pm on 106.3 FM.
Below are some pics and links to some of my past shows.
“The Crescent Trail is a system of footpaths within the Town of Perinton suitable for uses such as hiking, cross-country running, snowshoeing, nature study, and photography. Approximately thirty-five miles of footpaths provide public access to wooded hills, Town parklands, scenic overlooks, the margins of wetlands, and other preserved open spaces. The Trail connects with the Erie Canal Heritage Trail and the RS&E Trolley Trail.
Most sections of the Crescent Trail are single-lane dirt pathways. A continuous, orange-blazed main trail is nearly completed – planned as a crescent-shaped route between the southwest and northeast quadrants of Perinton. Additional branch trails, loop trails, connecting paths, and access paths allow self-guided walks of up to two hours. Longer, half-day or day-long outings can be enjoyed as point to point hikes or by using connections with the Trolley Trail or Canal Trail.”