Friday, October 29, 2010

Parks – Nashville and New York

On 26 October, last Tuesday night, we came back from Nashville in Tennessee. The Fall colors there were more vibrant than in Georgia. We drove back south on little mountain roads and avoided the freeway around Chattanooga. Fortunately the tornado, which was following us since we left Tennessee, did not catch up with us (well, not until late that evening. We did not have the tornado here in our county, but a county north of us did have a tornado touch down.)

Georgia road near Johns Mountain

While we were in Tennessee we went to a park near my daughter’s house. There is a large children’s playground there where our two grandsons like to play.

This park, called “Crockett Park,” is quite large - more than 170 acres (68.8 hectares) – with tennis courts, 11 multi-purpose fields, an extensive greenway trail system, golf course, amphitheater and other amenities. Two historic homes have been moved to the park. One of them, the Brentvale log cabin, shown below, was built in 1830 with massive logs to last generations. A few years ago, instead of being destroyed, it was moved to the park. The cabin was closed the day we were in the park but we walked around it and took a peek inside.

Brentvale cabin. Click on pictures to enlarge, then click again

I was curious as to why it was called “Crockett Park” and was told that the land used to belong to the Crockett Family. The famous American hero, Davy Crockett, was from Tennessee, and I was very interested to find out if this was his family’s land.

A little bit of French history which we learn in France but is not well known in the US should be added here. Henri IV, King of France between 1589 and 1610 was born a Huguenot (a Calvinist Protestant) but had to become Catholic when crowned King of France. Since he was familiar with these two Christian denominations he wanted religious tolerance in the country. He presided over the “Edict of Nantes” in 1598 which gave substantial rights to the French Huguenots, composed mainly of nobility, professionals and wealthy individuals (about 10% of the population.)

King Henry IV of France, Source Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately in 1685 King Louis XIV of France revoked this edict and approved a new one, the “Edict of Fontainebleau” which forbade any Huguenots to live in France (about 750,000 individuals at that time living in France) or, if they wanted to stay, to convert to Catholicism. Some 200,000 to 250,000 Huguenots immigrated to Protestants countries in Europe, like Switzerland, Germany, Holland, England, Ireland and others. One such French family, from Normandie, was headed by Antoine Desasure Perronette de Croquetagne. Antoine had to flee with his family first to England then to Cork, Ireland because, even though he was a captain, second in command to the household troops of King Louis XIV, he had become a Huguenot.

87 years of religious tolerance ended with this edict

Antoine’s third son, Joseph-Louis immigrated to the USA in 1708. His son William changed the French family name of de Croquetagne, which was a mouthful in English, first to “Croquet”, then anglicized it to “Crockett.” Joseph Louis' great-grandson John fought in the War of American Independence then moved into Tennessee. His fifth child was named Davy Crockett (1786-1836) and grew up in East Tennessee, and the rest of the story is well known. Davy was a folk hero called “King of the Wild Frontier.”

Davy Crockett, Engraving by C. Stuart, circa 1839. Public domain.

I think that Davy Crockett looks a bit French. I found out that the land where Crockett Park is located did belong to a Crockett, but it was Major Andrew Crockett (1745-1821) a veteran from the Revolutionary War who was granted 11,000 acres of land in Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. He was from a lineage of the real Crocketts from England whereas Davy Crockett’s lineage came from the de Croquetagne in Normandie, France, and his was an adopted surname.

Crockett Park, middle Tennessee

So what is the connection between the park near Nashville and the park in New York? Nothing. Just that they both have interesting history and, maybe, because the names of their cities starts with the letter N? (lol.) It is also because we visited both parks about a week apart. Now, a third park, this one in Paris, was built on an abandoned 19th century railway viaduct. In 1987 it was converted into a trail and called “La Promenade Plantée” (promenade with plants.) It is a 2.8 mile (4.5 km) elevated garden walkway which goes near modern buildings, boulevards and open sections.

La Promenade Plantée, Paris. Photos Courtesy Titi92 and Wikipedia.

While in New York, we walked on another 1.5 mile elevated walkway called the High Line. The High Line was also a railway, built in 1930. The panel below explains its creation.

This is the way it looked originally and after it was abandoned.

Unknown photographers

In 1999 when the structure was under threat of demolition a non-profit group was formed, Friends of the High Line, to preserve and maintain it as an elevated public park in the model of the Paris Promenade Plantée. We strolled on it on a sunny day. At first we mostly saw tourists on the trail but as we were approaching lunch time many local people appeared.

The High Line elevated public park is not completely finished. Sections 2 and 3 are still under refurbishment and construction.

The High Line goes close to busy streets and it is fun to look at them from above.

Walking the High Line is a great experience. You know you are in the vibrant city of New York but at the same time are walking in an oasis of flowers and plants – a sea of tranquility. You can look at the contemporary landscape of the city but from a cool vantage point surrounded by butterflies and chirping birds. My husband, who has a master’s degree in environmental planning, said that this was the highlight of his trip to New York. He kept marveling at the rail tracks going nowhere between the grass, weeds and flowers.

Most of the industries the High Line used to serve are now gone.

Walking along this thin linear space, bordering the Hudson River, you can see the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

As we weaved our way down the High Line it was like meandering down a stream, made of metal and concrete, but with vegetation on the side and peopled with tourists, local pedestrians, artists and workers having lunch or reading.

Strolling down this concrete deck you can feel the history of the place then look at the strong bare steel walls

or a wildflower

or urban philosophy.

The natural and manmade forces have been carefully cultivated in this urban renewal promenade – it had an impact on me. I could feel the past as I observed the present reality. I delighted in taking pictures as my husband was meditating on the way creative and thoughtful environmental planning ideas can benefit our communities.

We arrived to the end of the High Line too quickly it seemed. We walked down the stairs to the street below, in the Meat Packing District, and I took a last photograph looking up at the dramatic underbelly of the rail.

The High Line elevated public walkway may have been inspired by the Paris Promenade Plantée, but it has a completely different style. It is a very unconventional park binding the old and the new, cityscape and wildscape. It is unique.


Pame Recetas said...

What a name Desasure Perronette de Croquetagne! no wonder he had to change it for something easier to be pronounced in America.

I loved the promenade on the High Line, it gives a completely different view of the city, which, actually I have never visited, so I really appreciate your effort to show us such interesting and beautiful scenery, thanks and big hugs , and great week end!

Vicki Lane said...

I loved learning about Davy Crockett's French heritage! And what a wonderful use of an abandoned space the High Line is!

Thanks for a fascinating post!

Fennie said...

My good blogging friend, Frances, who lives in New York and blogs here has written about this high line park. It does seem a marvel and such a clever thing to do with an old railway.

Thanks for the history of the Crocketts and the Edict of Nantes. I was told once that one of the clauses in the Edict said that Brittany should be exempt from tolls, which is why there are no tolls on the motorways in Brittany - well there aren't many motorways in Brittany either, but there are some and they are (or were recently) free. Have you heard this?

Used to love stories of Davy Crockett as a child. there was a film I seem to remember which involved him leading a team of fellow frontiersmen punting a boat on the Mississippi. No idea what it was.

Lots of information in this blog - thanks so much!

Lonicera said...

I found myself wishing the Crocketts had been related way back - say an Irish descendant had gone east to England instead of west to the US - and the anglicised choice of surname would have been so obvious that they both chose the same.... OK I'll wake up now.
I love the way you're so interested in everything. (And I wondered how your knee coped on the long High Line walk...)

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I did not know the history of the Huguenots and enjoyed reading it very much. Davy Crockett was such a hero to my generation. King of the wild frontier as they said.

I've never walked the High Line in NY. Sounds exciting and what a view.

Vagabonde said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJan said...

What a wonderful post! But I expect nothing less from the Vagabonde, who has 100 followers now, well deserved, and a treat for all of us every time we visit!

I didn't know anything about Crockett, but I also think he looks a little French. And the High Line, if I make it to New York again, I'll visit it, especially if it is a fine day like yours was. Thank you again.

Ruth said...

A wonderful post. I had never heard the history of Davy Crockett's family and lineage back to France! I am surprised and delighted.

The High Line was the highlight of my May visit to NY too. I think the design of it is remarkable. Lesley and I loved how the benches seemed to mesh with the rail lines. We really felt like we were walking on a country rail, except that the NY skyline and harbor were all around. We had a very nice Mother's Day brunch (one week after Mother's Day) at a nice restaurant just a block away, called Park.

I always like seeing your beautiful photographs and read your responses to places. You have such a thoughtful perspective, with wisdom and an open heart.

Guess what my word verification is: hyride


Pondside said...

I know that when I click on your name I am going to read something interesting - learn something. Nashville to New York - there's poetry there. I haven't been to NYC in more than 35 years and would love to explore the changes.

Tammie Lee said...

you have seen some wonderful things. And the fall colors are beautiful. I loved the park your grand kids played in.

Jeannette StG said...

Interesting piece of history, Vagabonde! This is why my mother's family must have escaped to Holland. And from Holland gone to Indonesia (which was a colony of Holl. at that time) -where I was born.
Now I see the drawing of Davy Crockett, his features are undoubtedly French!

Elaine said...

The High Line is a wonderful restoration of a structure no longer used. What a gift for the people who live and work in that area.

Michael said...

STUNNINg photos here. You really have an eye. Love your angle on things here. Caught you over at Baino's blog and was impressed with your lovely comment you left her. Being French and in the US intrigues me too , of course.

Buffy said...

I love your site, It is a pleasure to visit.
I have added your site to my site.
Please link my site to your site.
Thank you!

Ginnie said...

The things I keep learning from you, Vagabonde...every single time! I love how you present us with your trips.

Friko said...

Hi Vagabonde,

you have filled in a bit of history for me.
Huguenots came to my town in Germany and established a flourishing and very profitable textile industry there. There are still street names and family names of Huguenot origin and until today, the town is famous for silk and velvet and other textiles.

Marguerite said...

What an amazing post! Loved all of the history and learning about the Huguenots. And as always, your photos are fab and beautiful! Glad you had a fun trip! Cheers!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Hello Vagabonde!
I'm so sorry I have been absent from reading your blog. I have been writing an article for an online magazine and the deadline was looming.
I'm so happy you had a nice time in NYC! The Highline is a wonderful place, isn't it? I was happy to read your impressions of it and see your photos. It was also interesting to learn about Davy Crockett's heritage!

I am eagerly going to look at your prior NY posts. I wish I knew you were here!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Leave it to you to discover this unique place in New York City. I have NEVER heard of the High Line before---I gree up in NY spent years there and this is the first time I have ever heard aboutit---And no one I know who lives there has ever mentioned it and I must know at least 75 to 100 people who live in Manhattan....!
Thank You, my dear, for this AMAZING tour of this very unique unusual place.
And Crockett Park, too! You are a born Historian!!!

Jinksy said...

A fascinating read from beginning to end - thank you! :)

Reader Wil said...

L'histoire de Davy Crockett est très intéressante. Moi, je suis une descendante des huguenots, mais je ne sais pas l'histoire des huguenots.
Vos photos sont très bonnes, mais j'aime surtout la première photo avec la couleur d'or!
Merci de votre visite! Oui la paix c'est très loin maintenant. Pendant toute ma vie il y a été des guerres.
La fleur en entête est un coquelicot, qui est le symbole des victimes des guerres mondiales.

rauf said...

Just a stroke of a pen can destroy the lives of millions who have to flee the country for safety. Survival is always the first priority. Unfortunately religious intolerance still prevails in the world now. We never learn from the mistakes our ancestors made. thank you for the history Vagabonde. Your posts are always educating me.

i have seen tornado only in the movies. Have seen cyclones though. We've had quite a few in my city.

bowsprite said...

i love seeing the city through your eyes! but i tell you: the "High Line", when it was fenced-off, abandoned tracks overgrown with weeds was a real raw joy and delight...

when Nature takes over:

Vagabonde said...

Pamela, Vicki Lane, Fennie, Lonicera, My Carolina Kitchen, DJan, Ruth, Pondside, Tammie Lee, Jeannette, Elaine, Ginnie, Friko, Marguerite, Pat@Mille fiori favoriti, Lady from the Hills, Jinsky, it is a pleasure for me to read your comments. Thank you so much for your kind words and for taking the time to stop by.

Vagabonde said...

Mmm, ffa8361es – welcome and thank you for stopping and leaving a comment, I appreciate it a lot.

Vagabonde said...

ReaderWil - Vous êtes une descendante Huguenote et vous parlez bien le français. Merci pour votre visite.

Vagabonde said...

Rauf – I have never seen a cyclone and hope never to see one. I hope my posts are not too educative as I know that can be quite boring. Thanks for stopping by.

Vagabonde said...

Bowsprite – I looked at Joel Sternfeld’s pictures of the High Line before it was disciplined into a park. It does look wild. Thanks for the link and for leaving a comment.

tasteofbeirut said...

J'ai trouvé ce billet fascinant; je ne savais pas que Dave Crockett est en fait d'origine Française. Je ne connais pas non plus cette promenade a New York qui est vraiment splendide; quel bonheur d'échapper à la bitume et de marcher comme ça avec vue sur la ville et végétations.

lorilaire said...

J' ai fait cette balade cet été à Paris, rigolo de savoir qu'il existe le même genre à New-York !
J'ignorais totalement l'origine de la famille Crockett !
Bizz lori

Jeruen said...

Ah, you have beautiful fall colors down there. Here, they say that the colors aren't too spectacular, because the weather is not too good this year. And you're the second person to mention the High Line: my sister who lives in Manhattan also told me about it and she said she loves the idea of a park right in the middle of Chelsea!

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