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One of North America's most stunning and intriguing botanical havens, the Garfield Park Conservatory celebrates its one-hundredth anniversary in 2008. Often referred to as "landscape art under glass," Jens Jensen's revolutionary design is a poetic interpretation of his beloved Midwestern landscape as it was in prehistoric times. The tropical plantings, water features and stonework were in shocking contrast to the showy displays of typical Victorian hothouses, and his Conservatory quickly became one of the region's most captivating attractions.
The Conservatory is at the center of a larger story: how nature, urban design, and horticulture helped to shape one of Chicago's most interesting neighborhoods. As early as the 1870s, architect and engineer William Le Baron Jenney began the verdant tradition of Chicago's West Side by designing its seminal park and boulevard system. For more than a century, ideas and visions of nature have influenced the development of Garfield Park, its magnificent conservatory, and the surrounding West Side community. Today gardening and the greening movement are a catalyst for reviving this vital part of Chicago.
Published in honor of the centennial, Inspired by Nature blossoms into a living history that looks to the future, and covers everything from the history of the conservatory and Garfield Park to the revival of the surrounding community. This fascinating and comprehensive volume includes historical essays, archival photography and plans, as well as contemporary colour photography by Brook Collins.