My Rome study focuses on the 1927-1930 Italian sojourn of American landscape architect Michael Rapuano, and how it helped shape the urban landscape of metropolitan New York.

Michael Rapuano at Villa d'Este, Tivoli, December 30, 1927

Photograph by Austin G. Morris
Working in the transitional era between the City Beautiful movement and the rise of Modernism, Rapuano and his partner of 42 years, Gilmore D. Clarke, were among the most influential American urbanists of the 20th century. Though trained in the Beaux-Arts, they practiced at the threshold of modernity and at the junction of several disciplines—including urban planning, landscape architecture and civil engineering.
Clarke and Rapuano designed the first modern highways in the world, and spent much of their careers working with Robert Moses to build the arterial infrastructure that forced New York into the motor age.  Their greatest contribution,however, was to design or re-design hundreds of parks and playgrounds in New York City during the Great Depression.

West Side Improvement and Riverside Park

Gilmore D. Clarke and Michael Rapuano, with Clinton F. Loyd and Madigan-Hyland Engineers
Photo by Fairchild Aerial Survey Company
Guided by his own extensive diaries and letters, I will retrace Rapuano's Rome-prize travels, looking specifically at how his field studies of great Renaissancevillas defined the signature "public-works Baroque" park aesthetic of the Moses era, and even helped make the London plane (Platanus acerifolia) the iconic tree of New York City.
Clarke and Rapuano's work includes Tibbetts Brook, Glen Island, and Playland Park in Westchester County; Riverside, Orchard Beach, Jacob Riis, Astoria, and Marine Parks in New York; the Central Park Conservatory Garden; Cadman Plaza and the Brooklyn War Memorial; and the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. They prepared master plans for the 1939 New York World's Fair; the United Nations Headquarters; Idlewild (John F. Kennedy) Airport; and dozens of public and private housing projects—including the Harlem River Houses, Parkchester, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. Their arterials include the Bronx River, Saw Mill, Hutchinson, Sprain Brook, Taconic State, Henry Hudson, Grand Central, Belt and Cross Island Parkways in New York; the Van Wyck and Brooklyn-Queens Expressways; the Schuylkill Expressway in Philadelphia; and the Garden State and Palisades Interstate Parkways in New Jersey.  Both Clarke and Rapuano served for many years on the National Commission on Fine Arts in Washington.  Both were Trustees of the American Academy in Rome, and Rapuano served as President of the Academy from 1958 to 1968.

Plan for Permanent World Capitol at Flushing Meadow Park

Michael Rapuano
1946 (unbuilt)
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