Matthew Nash

Franklin Park: New Friends


Nick presents his project.

In March, I received and email from a 6th grader named Nick. He said he was working on a school project about Franklin Park and that he’d seen my blog posts about my explorations. He asked if I would join him and his mom on a walk around the park, so we could talk about some of the things I’d found and his interests in Frederick Law Olmsted’s last project.

Our afternoon walk was a lot of fun, and Nick is a great kid with lots of enthusiasm for history. He’d already done a lot of work, and even showed up with a dog-eared copy of Julie Arrison’s book of park photos. We took a tour of the sights, and I was able to show him some of the hidden places like the location of the underground reservoir on Hagborne Hill and the (possible) site of the Lover’s Leap.

This week, Nick presented his research as his grad project for school. My wife and I walked over to see it, and it was very impressive! He had original documents from other local historians, maps, photos of the sights and a lot of great history. He was even wearing a Franklin Park Coalition t-shirt, and introduced me to other members of the FPC.

The big event of the night was the presentation by the grads of their projects, and Nick confidently talked about his research and encouraged people to explore the history and beauty of the park. It was very cool to have him thank me for helping him. I’m hoping we can keep in touch — and not just because he had some great maps that I’d never seen, especially of the original Zoo layout (which he had loaned to another student whose project was about the Zoo and zoo-keeping) which explain a lot of things I never understood before.

Congratulations to Nick for finishing his project. I hope he continues to be interested in history, because in understanding our history we can shape our future. As Franklin Park’s own grumpy schoolmaster Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote:

History no longer shall be a dull book. It shall walk incarnate in every just and wise man. You shall not tell me by language and titles a catalogue of the volumes you have read. You shall make me feel what periods you have lived.

Categorised as: Franklin Park

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