Downing Park,
Newburgh, NY
Downing Park 
Newburgh, New York
United States

Downing Park was the last park Olmsted and Vaux designed together, and it was completed by their sons.

Downing Park was designed in the late 19th century by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. It was the last collaboration between the two men. Both of their sons— John Charles Olmsted and Downing Vaux— were also heavily involved.  

Olmsted and Vaux submitted the plan to the City of Newburgh in 1889 on the condition that the park would be named after their mentor Andrew Jackson Downing, a prominent American landscape designer and Newburgh native who died tragically in a steamboat accident decades earlier.  

In 1897, after three years of construction, the 35-acre park opened to the public. The park features included sculpted topography, landscaped greenery, stately trees, expansive meadows and a large pond.  

The park originally possessed a house (inherited from the land’s former life as a farm), a band shell and an observatory. The observatory, designed by Downing Vaux, rested on the highest point of the park and exposed breathtaking views of the Hudson River. It was to serve as a memorial to both Andrew Jackson Downing and his brother Charles Downing.  

None of the original structures remain. The farmhouse burned down after serving as a smallpox sanatorium during the 1908 flu pandemic, the band shell was removed in the 1920s and the observatory was razed in 1961 due to serious deterioration. A pergola and a stone shelter house have been added to the landscape.  

Today, the original park layout remains intact, and a few of the trees that were planted by Warren H. Manning, the Olmsted firm’s superintendent of planting, are still present.  A master plan completed in the early 1990s advised on efforts at restoration.  

The Downing Park Conservancy, a volunteer organization that supports park maintenance and activities, has joined hands with The Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties, to restore the park. With respect for the original park design and stronger public-private partnerships, Downing Park has the potential to be a key contributor to the environmental, economic and cultural transformation of Newburgh. 


    Downing Park. Photo credit: Julia Raskin.

    The Polly, Dowing Park. Photo credit: Pam Breeman.

    Downing Park plan. Image credit: FLONHS.

    Downing Park. Photo credit: Pam Breeman.

    Downing Park. Photo credit: Pam Breeman.

    Rough study of road in Downing Park. Image credit: FLONHS.

    Downing Park and its view down the Hudson River. Photo credit: Julia Raskin.

    Dede Petri plants trees with kids in Downing Park, April 23, 2022. Photo credit: Pam Breeman.

    Downing Park, location for proposed war memorial. Image credit: FLONHS.

    Study for proposed war memorial in Downing Park. Image credit: FLONHS.


Shared Spaces

Visit Downing Park!

Join the Olmsted Network on September 13-15 for our 2024 Annual Conference— Landscapes of Renewal: Olmsted, Vaux and Downing, where we will hear from local experts and tour local Olmsted sites, including Downing Park.

Central Park

Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Central Park was created in 1858 and is a masterpiece of landscape architecture.

Druid Hills & Olmsted Linear Park

In 1975, this residential community and its linear park were listed on the National Register of Historic Places.