Scenic Public Park
What They Are about
Downing Park is the largest of several public parks in the city of Newburgh, New York, United States. The park was designed in the late 19th century by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvet Vaux, who gave the design to the city on the condition it would be named after their mentor, Andrew Jackson Downing, a Newburgh native who had died in a steamboat accident on the Hudson River in 1852.
Downing Park is centrally located within the city, between Robinson Avenue on the west, South Street on the north, Dubois Street on the east and Third Street to the south. Carpenter Avenue divides the park into an eastern and western half. The most prominent feature of the park is the pond and fountain in its southwest corner, known as the "polly." In the early 20th century, it was a popular place for ice skating in the winter, but that has since been prohibited as pollution has made the water less capable of effectively freezing up in the winter. The Polly’s natural stone Shelter House, designed by local architect Gordon Marvel was added in 1934 and served as a place for visitors to change into skates and enjoy cups of hot chocolate during the cold winter months. It is now the headquarters of the Downing Park Planning Committee.
To the east, the land rises to a small hill, the terrace, which overlooks the Hudson. Other amenities in the park include an amohitheater to the north of the polly, host to many local concerts and festivals in the summer months.
Downing Park is home to the only dedicated ornamental daylily garden in New York, donated and maintained by the Iris and Daylily Society. A denizen blue heron is regularly observed fishing in the two-and-a-half acre Polly; a great white heron has also been observed. There are also brown mallards, wood ducks, snapping turtles, peregrine falcons, and visiting Canada geese.