Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Andrew Jackson Downing
Born in Newburgh, New York, United States, an exhibition of continental landscape watercolors by Calvert Vaux captured Downing's attention. He traveled to London in search of an architect that would compliment his vision of what a landscape should be. Downing believed that architecture should be visually integrated into the surrounding landscape, and he wanted to work with someone who had as deep an appreciation of art as he did. Vaux readily accepted the job and moved to the United States.
Downing and Vaux worked together for two years, and during those two years, he made Vaux a partner. Together they designed many significant projects. Examples include the grounds in the White House and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. Vaux’s work on the Smithsonian inspired an article he wrote for The Horticulturalist, in which he stated his view that it was time the government should recognize and support the arts. Shortly after writing this in 1852, Downing died during a fire in a steamboat accident. He was interred in Cedar Hill Cemetery, in his birthplace of Newburgh, New York. Vaux took over the company and his later work in Central Park was to be a fitting memorial to his late partner.
It was Downing who first proposed the development of Central Park in The Horticulturist magazine. Downing was a friend and mentor to fellow landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted whom he introduced to the English-born Vaux. Following the tragic death, in Downing's honor, Olmsted and Vaux entered the Central Park design competition together and won. Designed in 1853, the park opened to the public three years later in 1856. The two went on to create a partnership, Olmsted, Vaux and Company .
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