I recently photographed the lovely Elizabeth Barlow Rogers for the Financial Times in London. It’s a feature in the House & Home section, complete with portraits and interiors of Betsy’s (that her nickname) stunning home that overlooks Central Park in New York City.
The writer and landscape preservationist on how the neglected, crime-ridden park was restored as the ‘jewel of the city’
When Elizabeth Barlow Rogers first appears inside her apartment in New York’s Upper West Side she is wearing a terry-towelling tracksuit, her cheeks glowing following an early-morning trip to watch warblers in an area of Central Park known as The Ramble. Within a few minutes she has reappeared in black trousers and a green silk blouse, hurrying down her spiral staircase carrying a great stack of books.
It is a glimpse of two sides of Rogers — a landscape preservationist-turned-writer — who is best known for her long stint as the first administrator of Central Park. She was appointed in 1979, when the city was running low on funds and the 843-acre site had become a menacing, rubbish-strewn wasteland. By the time she stepped down 17 years later, she had helped restore it to the original vision of the designers, Olmsted and Vaux: a romantic, naturalistic oasis with curves and sunken roads, offsetting the gridiron city around it.