The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy unveiled a very unusual document moments ago. A copy of the General Plan for Delaware Park, that was missing for the last 30 years, appeared out of the blue and is now in the Conservancy's permanent archival collection*. The document now stands as the single most important document in the collection. Besides the unusually large size of the plan at 4'x8', the details were drawn "as is", meaning that historians can see exactly how the landscape appeared, right down to the buildings that stood in 1899.
I found the plan to be enlightening in ways that showed features that I was unaware ever existed. Features such as a beach that was once at the foot of Gala Water (the original name for Hoyt lake). I was also unaware that the old quarry at Parkside was originally called The Ledges. There was also a fairly large pond where the food kiosk now stands over at Meadow (Olmsted named "The Pool").
Today's unveiling was also exciting because The Conservancy's President and CEO, Thomas Herrera-Mishler, stated that an archive team has been busy documenting over a 125,000 images of Buffalo's Olmsted Park System, and is in the process of looking for a climate-controlled home for the massive collection that would be open to the public. These types of images are already serving their purpose. For example, the Rose Garden pergola is going to be restored**, and archival images show that a couple of the outside columns were actually square, not round (as they are today). Photos also show that back in the 50s the columns were switched to brick to withstand the weather. In the future, the columns will be historically accurate.
May we continue to stick to the original plans, according to original documents, as Olmsted originally envisioned.
*The plan suddenly showed up on the desk of Thomas Herrera-Mishler without a note or anything, along with a number of historic photos.
**Funded by The Community Foundation