“City Parks: Public Place, Private Thoughts” Has Great Writing, Boring Photos

Lion Urn (Dappled Light)


Leica Monochrom, 50mm Noctilux, ND Filter

A few weeks back, we expressed great interest in Bill Clinton’s essay on Dumbarton Oaks, included in Catie Marron’s book, City Parks: Public Places, Private Thoughts.  Having now bought the book, it is a lovely read, with writers ranging from Jan Morris (Giardino Pubblico, Trieste) to John Banville (Iveagh Gardens, Dublin), from Sir Norman Foster (Grosse Tiegarten, Berlin) to Pico Iyer (Maruyama Koen, Kyoto).   The short essay by Bill Clinton on our favorite local urban oasis, Dumbarton Oaks, which is a short distance from our home, is wonderful.

Interestingly, the photographer Oberton Gili illustrates the book with images from each of the gardens, and in this we were disappointed.  He must only have had a single day to photograph Dumbarton Oaks, because it is so much more mysterious, beguiling, quirky, and enigmatic than the photos let on.  We say this not simply because we have made a long, photographic study of it, but because as a regular visitor, we were frustrated by how it is depicted.  Perhaps fans of the Presidio, or Park Guell will say the same thing about their favorite parks.  To us, though, we bought the book for the writing, and on that basis, it’s worth buying.

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