Note: Please click and play audio link to accompany your reading.
I recently discussed with my cousin the fireworks displays we saw as children in Pope Park, Hartford, Connecticut. These Fourth of July outings were all-night affairs - our families arrived early with blankets and picnics, staking out ground for a display which seemed like it lasted forever. Perhaps the childhood memory of this spectacular event looms larger than it really was for both of us, but we agreed that it lasted nearly one hour and was the best thing we had ever seen.
As I grew up, I was no stranger to the boyhood love of pyrotechnics. This followed me into high school, where I became involved in the rocketry club. In my early years in New York City, we managed to put on our own bottle rocket displays for the Fourth of July.
Of course, little compares to Fireworks by Grucci or Pyro Spectaculars by Souza, which has been putting on the annual Macy's fireworks display since 1982. Last night's display was beautiful as always, with many new pyrotechnic effects.
This year, my spectating experience was particularly pleasant. Rather than battle the masses on the west side of Manhattan for Hudson River views, I was invited by friends to the 26th floor rooftop deck of their apartment building. We were joined by a small number of building residents for a pleasant, trouble-free bird's-eye view.
In a extraordinary twist of fate, I learned today that Pope Park was designed by the Olmsted Brothers Landscape Architects in 1898. This company, the nation's first landscape architecture company, was founded by Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of Central Park and Prospect Park in New York City. Olmstead's sons, John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. inherited the firm from their father. This company has an enormous portfolio of projects to their credit, including Pope Park. I have been unknowingly following the footsteps of the Olmstead Brothers.
I am pleased to have echos of pyrotechnics and the Olmstead legacy here in New York City, because leaving my home and childhood behind is the fate of any Rocket Man :)