Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

The Top 100 Greatest New Yorkers — #44

Calvert Vaux (1824 – 1895)

44 Calvert Vaux

Although his protégé and junior partner, Frederick Law Olmsted, is more famous today, the great parks of New York City owe their existence primarily to Calvert Vaux. The British immigrant who embraced American life and helped revive Gothic architecture in the New World (eventually becoming a founding member of the American Institute of Architects) was a draftsman and painter who helped revolutionize landscape design in America. While his collaborators handled much of the greenery, Vaux designed the structures that give Central Park its elegance, such as Belevedere Castle, Bethesda Terrace, Huddlestone Arch, and the Bow Bridge. In his masterpiece Prospect Park, he designed the Dairy, the Oriental Pavilion, and the Nethermead Arches, among other signature structures. Eventually disbanding the partnership with Olmsted in order to pursue more traditional urban architecture, Vaux went on to design many great buildings, including the Samuel Tilden House (now the National Arts Club) and the Jefferson Market Courthouse (now a branch of the New York Public Library).

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