A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from August 11, 2005
“Lungs of the City” (Central Park)
It's commonly believed that Frederic Law Olmsted coined the term "lungs of the city" in reference to New York's Central Park. Olmsted helped design Central Park in 1858, and the quotation appears (on internet sources) from 1872.

The only problem here is that "lungs of the city" dates before Olmsted. It's there in the New York Times in 1853.

"Lungs of the city" is clearly a form of the earlier expression, the "lungs of London." The phrase has been attributed to Burke, Lord Chatham, and William Pitt (British Prime Minister, 1766-68). William WIndham used "lungs of London" in the House of Commons in 1808. It appears that Hyde Park was the "lungs of London," and then other parks in general, and then "lungs of the city" was used, and then this gravitated to New York's Central Park.

(GOOGLE)(The 1872 Olmsted myth)
Parks as Lungs
America's Urban Forests Make Environmental and Economic Sense

Frederick Law Olmsted, the granddaddy of American landscape architecture, had little idea how prescient he was when he told the City of New York in 1872 that the midtown Manhattan park he was busy creating would serve as the "lungs of the city." Today, the urban forests found within city parks across the country serve not only as recreational and social centers, but also as organic sponges for various forms of pollution and as storehouses of carbon dioxide to help offset global warming. Indeed, recent experiences in several U.S. cities have shown Olmsted's metaphor for what is now Central Park to be far more literal than figurative.

16 May 2005
The Boston Globe

PARKS ARE the lungs of the city, said Frederick Law Olmsted, and the heart of the community.

Article 7 -- No Title
New York Daily Times (1851-1857). New York, N.Y.: Mar 28, 1853. p. 4 (1 page):
THE PARK. - If the Park be the lungs of the City, as the phrase goes, then the city has got the consumption, for its lungs are in bad case.

A Central Park.
A. V. W.. New York Daily Times (1851-1857). New York, N.Y.: Jun 4, 1853. p. 3 (1 page):
The necessities for the Central Park are:
1. Health. - A million people will soon be crowded on this island, and if these Lungs of the City are not furnished, instead of the healthiest, this will become a sickly place.
A. V. W.

Olmsted's Legacy ... Their fresh air - the "lungs of the city" he called Central park - and design were ... Olmstead Associates's Warninanco Park, Elizabeth NJ, Autumn 2003. ...
hsenj.ndi.net/essay.html - 15k - Supplemental Result - Cached - Similar pages

Rosie Poitra-Chalmers Olmstead and Vaux included in their augmented plan for Central Park the suggestion that a ... as the "lungs of the city" were one and a half centuries ago. ...
german.pomona.edu/Rosie.htm - 28k - Cached - Similar pages

Some of London's greatest treasures are its green parks and gardens. The capital's parks were labelled "the lungs of London" by 18th Century Prime Minister, William Pitt.

From the wide expanse of Hyde Park, with its Serpentine River and delightful gallery showcasing a number of modern artists, to the manicured lawns, hedges and flower borders of Regent's Park to the glorious views and pastoral, country-like acres of Hampstead Heath.

H2G2 The parks are the lungs of London. - William Pitt, British Prime Minister (1766 - 68). They have now been recognised as the lifeblood of major urban centres ...
http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/pda/A386138 - 6k - Cached - Similar pages

[DOC] "I welcome the opportunity to speak to you tonight File Format: Microsoft Word 2000 - View as HTML
London, as we all know, is very cramped and it was William Wyndham, quoting Pitt the Elder, in the House of Commons: "the parks were the lungs of London". ...
http://www.civictrust.org.uk/news/Phil%20Hope%20Speech.doc - Similar pages

:: History of Central Park ::

Central Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1858. They envisioned the park as a place where people of all social and ethnic backgrounds could have fun and do their activities . The place was a treeless , rocky one and stagnant swampland. However Olmstead and Vaux transformed it into a urban oasis .During the 19th century approximately 60000 people were living in New York city. In the 1830's a tremendous number of immigrants came in to the city increasing the number of people to 30000 by1840 and in 1850' it increased to 500000.Many people were looking for a place to relax and escape the press of bodies and the din of the city.

In 1857 the city commissioners sponsored a public competition to design the central park . The "greensward plan " by Frederick Law Olmsted , who became the superintendent of the park ,and Calvert Vaux (partner of Andrew Jackson Downing). The plan exhibited both sweeping meadows and lakes of the pastoral landscape and the rocky irregularity of the land. Olmsted knew about the conditions of the terrain and based his design because of this , for example that the southern part was mostly a rolling section could be the tranquil , serene section. The rocky an wooded western and northern inspired him too.

Article 1 -- No Title
The New - York Mirror: a Weekly Gazette of Literature and the Fine Arts (1823-1842). New York: Jul 23, 1842. Vol. 20, Iss. 30; p. 239 (1 page):
"The lungs of the City." - It was thus that Burke in a parliamentary debate denominated by a happy metaphor the parks and squares of London; combining with his usual felicity of language, argument and illustration in a single phrase. There is much truth in this figure; the foliage of the parks gives out vital air to purify and regenerate the atmosphere, in the same way as the lungs give it to the blood, changing its venous blue to an arterial scarlet. To this figurative argument of Burke, London is perhaps indebted for some of the numerous and extensive parks which form the lungs of her overgrown body.
The Parks of London.
The Friend; a Religious and Literary Journal (1827-1906). Philadelphia: Dec 15, 1855. Vol. 29, Iss. 14; p. 109 (1 page):
"THE LUNGS OF LONDON. - The parks of London were called by Lord Chatham the "lungs of the city," and well they may be termed so, when we consider how essential they are to the healthful respiration of its inhabitants. Westward lies Hyde Park, St. James' and the Green Parks; eastward, Victoria Park; southward, Kennington and Battersea Parks, and for the north of London the new Albert Park is now being laid out.

M L LINTON. The Western Journal of Medicine and Surgery (1840-1855). Louisville: Jan 1841. Vol. 3, Iss. 1; p. 65 (10 pages) :
St. George's of London is so situated as to be fanned by the air of St. James and Hyde Park, (the lungs of London) and it is said, therefore, to be more salubrious than the other hospitals of that city.
The Journal of Belles Lettres (1832-1842). Philadelphia: Jan 30, 1841. p. 0_2 (3 pages) :
Well, indeed, and happily, have these been designated "THE LUNGS OF LONDON."
The Journal of Belles Lettres (1832-1842). Philadelphia: Feb 1841. p. 0_1 (2 pages)
The Journal of Belles Lettres (1832-1842). Philadelphia: Feb 1841. p. 0_3 (2 pages)
The Journal of Belles Lettres (1832-1842). Philadelphia: Feb 3, 1841. p. 0_2 (3 pages)
The Journal of Belles Lettres (1832-1842). Philadelphia: Feb 10, 1841. p. 0_2 (3 pages)

To The Editor Of The Times. (Letters to the Editor) AN INHABITANT OF BAYSWATER..
The Times Saturday, Sep 01, 1838; pg. 5; Issue 16823; col C :
It was Mr. Wyndham, I think, who denominated the parks the lungs of London: and most fortunate it is that the parks were Royal property, or our great and crowded city would long since have been deprived of its lungs.

The Edinburgh AdvertiserTuesday, November 13, 1821 Edinburgh, Midlothian
...do so. llytlc Park hu been called the LUNGS OF LONDON and bince the grounds..
Pg. 312, col. 1:
Hyde Park has been called the Lungs of London;
The Home Book of Quotations
by Burton Stevenson
Ninth Edition
Dodd Mead & Company
New York 1958
Pg. 1453:
The lungs of London.
WILLIAM WINDHAM, Debate, House of Commons, 30 June, 1808.
If the Parks be "the lungs of London," we wonder what Greenwich Fair is - a periodical breaking out, we suppose - a sort of spring rash.
DICKENS, Sketches by Boz: Greenwich Fair.

Posted by Barry Popik
Names/Phrases • Thursday, August 11, 2005 • Permalink

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