Elm Park in Worcester, MA is considered to be one of the first purchases of land for recreation purposes using public funds in the United States. In 1854, the land was purchased by the City of Worcester for the explicit purpose of creating a new “Public Common”. Although considered by some as the oldest public park in the United States, other parks including Central Park in New York and Bushnell Park in Hartford, Connecticut were also being established around this time period. Despite some initial displeasure voiced by the citizens of Worcester for purchasing the tract using public funds, today Elm Park can be considered the crown jewel of Worcester’s park system which consists of over 60 facilities located throughout the city. With elements of the park designed by the firm established by the renowned landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, it retains many of the pastoral features that have become synonymous with historic Olmsted designs.
Since 2011, B+T has been providing services to the Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Division of the City’s Department of Public Works and Parks related to renovations and improvements at Elm Park. Most recently, B+T has been included in a unique partnership consisting of the City of Worcester’s Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Division, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and students from the carpentry program at the Worcester Technical High School (WTHS). This collaboration has WPI preparing the design and WTHS constructing a replacement for the iconic Red Bridge that spans the narrow channel that connects the South Mere and Elm Mere. The Red Bridge, although having been reconstructed and replaced several times since its initial installation in 1877, has been a popular location for weddings and is considered by some to be the most photographed location in central Massachusetts. The new Red Bridge, once completed and installed, will be compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements correcting the previous steep grade that led to the bridge from both sides. Upon completion, the bridge will be named the Myra Hiatt Kraft Memorial Bridge, in honor of the late philanthropist and Worcester native.
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