Philadelphia boasts one of the oldest, largest and most diverse park systems in the United States. Yet our parks receive scant attention in histories of lanpdscape design and city planning. In “Counting Trees: The Search for Fairmount Park,” Elizabeth Milroy, author of The Grid and the River: Philadelphia’s Green Places, 1682-1876, will describe the development of Philadelhia’s urban parks in the two centuries after William Penn and Thomas Holme drew public squares on the seminal city plan. Thanks to many hours working in HSP's collections, she uncovered new information and new insights that explain in particular how and why the Schuylkill River valley, anchored by the hill called Fairmount, gained renown for its scenery and why it was later developed as public parkland both in opposition to and in concert with the squares Penn envisioned in his city center.
Elizabeth Milroy has been Professor and Department Head of Art & Art History at the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design of Drexel University since September, 2015. Prior to this, she was the Zoë and Dean Pappas Curator of Education, Public Programs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; from 1988 to 2013 she was a member of faculty in Art History and American Studies at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Dr. Milroy received a BA (Honours) degree from Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario, an MA degree from Williams College, and a PhD in the History of Art from the University of Pennsylvania, where she wrote her dissertation on Thomas Eakins’s artistic training.
The Grid and the River: Philadelphia's Green Spaces, 1682-1876 has been awarded a Wyeth Foundation Publication Grant and a Furthermore Grant, as well as the David Coffin Publication Grant from the Foundation for Landscape Studies.