THE ADIRONDACK PARK: A Political History by

THE ADIRONDACK PARK: A Political History

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Ever since an 1869 bestseller celebrated its virtues, the Adirondack region has attracted summer sojourners, but more than a hundred years passed before the Adirondack Park Agency was established to determine and coordinate the best interests of the area. Graham's enterprising history of that stop-and-start movement emphasizes the significance of key legal concepts (Forever Wild, the Blue Line) that in the long run protected the region's integrity; situates local efforts in the larger context of parks development (Yellowstone, Central Park); and introduces the pivotal figures involved. Hotels like Paul Smith's and sanatoria like Dr. Trudeau's welcomed visitors once the railroads made the area accessible, but the arguments and interventions of several people--Verplanck Colvin, Gifford Pinchot, Melvil Dewey (of the Decimals), John Apperson, the Marshall family--assured the endurance of its natural resources. From the beginning, the conflict pitted lumbermen and tourist interests against a variety of clear-water defenders and wilderness advocates, and several times the outcries and united actions of New York citizens defeated the commercial plans of developers and logging companies. But even within the ranks, legal interpretations were debated as was the best use of the parkland: purists stubbornly questioned the appropriateness of campsites. And when a Laurance Rockefeller proposal spurred a Nelson Rockefeller commission and the 1973 establishment of a regulatory agency, hostilities persisted--the kind one expects when a group of well-meaning outside experts makes policy for lifelong residents. Nonetheless the APA continues to oversee nearly six million acres, 60 percent of them private holdings. Dedicated to Harold Hochschild, who founded the wonderful Adirondack Museum, this ably charts the political evolution of the park and the wilderness concept behind it.

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 1978
Publisher: Knopf