The cloudgate or "bean" is one of the most photographed spots inside Millennium Park.

photo by: Giuseppe Mio/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

December 18, 2018

40 Places Under 40 Years Old: Landscapes

The votes are in! See which places you chose as your favorites from our list of 40 of the most important, most interesting, and quirkiest American places 40 years old or less.

View Favorites

Welcome to 40 Under 40: Places—40 of the most important, most interesting, and quirkiest American places less than 40 years old, compiled by the staff of Preservation magazine. The by-no-means comprehensive list includes sites both well-known and obscure, high-end and low-budget, and urban and rural. Places typically aren’t considered historic until they’ve been around for at least 50 years, so why highlight younger sites now? Because by looking at them through a preservation lens and identifying places worthy of saving BEFORE they become truly historic, we can be proactive about their futures.

Each place on our list was built in 1978 or later, and each makes an important contribution in one of six categories: Arts, Science and Tech, Culture, History, Landscape, and Housing. We’ll be rolling out our 40 Under 40 Places stories, category by category, through the end of 2018, and a public online voting period will take place from January 7-18, 2019. Top vote-getters will be featured in the Spring 2019 issue of Preservation. Read on to see if any of your favorite places made our list—and please vote for your top choices in January!

Related stories: Science and Tech, Arts, Culture

Here are the seven places on our list from the Landscapes category.

Millennium Park—Chicago (pictured above)

Up until 1997, a section of Chicago south of the river and facing Lake Michigan was covered with railroad tracks and industrial warehouses, unused by the city’s residents. But the site had undeniable potential to become a place that mattered.

It's hard to imagine a Chicago without Millennium Park today. “[A visit] to the park is like the evidence of your visit,” jokes Scott Stewart, executive director of the Millennium Park Foundation, the group that maintains the site. “If you don’t take a selfie in front of the Cloud Gate [aka “The Bean”], did it really happen?"

At its core, the park, which was designed by landscape architecture firm Terry Guen Design Associates, is meant to be a representation of the city of Chicago and its residents. “It’s always fit into the vision of Chicago, which goes back to Burnham’s vision of looking forward,” explains Stewart. “It’s like a town square. The park will always be free, will always be open to the public, and the art, architecture, and programming will be equitable and highly representative of Chicago.”

After snapping a picture at the The Bean, visitors can watch an outdoor concert at the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, stroll through the cheery 5-acre Lurie Garden, enjoy the Crown Fountain, or check out the Boeing Galleries that highlight modern and contemporary art.

Location: 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60602

Hours: Daily, 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Fun Fact: The 24.5-acre park, which gets up to 20 million visitors per year, is the number one attraction in Chicago and in the Midwest.

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens isn't a garden at all, but a mosaiced empty lot and rowhouse.

photo by: Emily Smith

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens—Philadelphia

Isaiah Zagar, a mosaic artist, and his wife, Julia, moved into the South Street neighborhood in the 1960s with a vision in mind. The area was sparsely populated, with few communal places to bring people into the neighborhood, and it was threatened with highway development. In 1968, Julia opened an art gallery and Isaiah decorated its exterior (and interior) surfaces with tiny pieces of sparkling glass.

Several decades later, in 1991, Isaiah Zagar purchased a building nearby and fenced off two adjacent vacant lots. For the next 14 years, the artist brought in everyday objects like glass bottles and shards of colored glass that he pressed into every surface of the property. It wasn’t until 2008, though, that Zagar, with the help of the community, purchased the two vacant lots and opened Magic Gardens to the public.

“We’re very undefinable,” says Emily Smith, executive director of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, the nonprofit that operates the site. “We have traditional mosaics with tile and grout, as well as sound objects and ceramics, glass bottles, bicycle wheels—pretty much anything [Zagar] picked up along the way.” Magic Gardens celebrates other local artists, too, which fits with the site’s mission of being open and inclusive.

Magic Gardens is still considered a work in progress. Zagar stops by every day to oversee maintenance, repairs, and cleaning of the mosaics.“A lot of people don’t realize how sophisticated and labor intensive the work is. It’s like being in someone’s diary, a visual narrative,” Smith explains.

Location: 1020 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Hours: Wednesday through Monday, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Fun Fact: Zagar's work can be seen all over the city of Philadelphia at more than 220 public sites—over 1,000,000 square feet! That adds up to more public mosaics by a single artist in one city in the entire world.

The new buildings are built out of bamboo at the Portland Japanese Garden.

photo by: Bruce Forster

Portland Japanese Garden Expansion—Portland

If you haven’t traveled to Japan but have a hankering to see a traditional Japanese garden, head over to the Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon, which is considered the best example outside of Japan. The garden opened in 1963 at 9 acres, but because of its increasing popularity, 3 more acres were added in 2017. Now, visitors are treated to a hillside garden, bonsai terrace, and a tea flower garden, along with a new visitor center made of bamboo and a place to enjoy traditional Japanese tea.

The new buildings and gardens are known collectively as the Cultural Crossing Village. The site’s master garden craftsman, Sadafumi Uchiyama, and architect Kengo Kuma (who designed the 2020 Summer Olympics stadium in Tokyo) worked together on the design. It is Kuma’s first commission in the United States.

“This is the first expansion ever to the site,” says Erica Heartquist, communication specialist for the garden. “Our guests needed more space to have an authentic zen experience, so we built out on existing land. We now have eight gardens total.”

Guests can meander through the gardens, catching sight of cascading ponds, seasonal bonsai (which are loaned to the gardens by members of the community), and admire the new dry-laid stone wall completed by Suminori Awata, a 15th-generation Japanese stone mason (his ancestors built about 80 percent of the stone walls in Japan).

“In Japan, you go into a garden and it’s serene and zen. Outside of the gates, Japan is bustling. We wanted to convey the idea of connectivity,” says Heartquist.

Location: 611 SW Kingston Ave., Portland, OR 97205

Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Monday 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Fun Fact: The Portland Japanese Garden expansion features a Tsubo-Niwa, “a small vignette garden,” that is meant to greet visitors and provide a feeling of relief from outside life.

Unique twisting shapes make up the topiary shapes at Pearl Fryar's Topiary Garden.

photo by: The Garden Conservancy

The Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden—Bishopville, South Carolina

“Success is about three things—work, passion, and marketing,” says Pearl Fryar, who knows this better than most. What started as a desire to win a best yard contest in 1981 grew into a remarkable topiary garden that’s achieved international acclaim. Two acres of his lawn at his home in a residential neighborhood in Bishopville, South Carolina, are covered with topiaries of all heights; some towering, others small, all quirky and unique.

The contest led to a story in the local paper, which led to calls from magazines and other outlets. Fryar has traveled all over the country talking about his life and work and has spoken at universities like Harvard and places like the National Mall in Washington, D.C. “People want something different. So that’s how I got their attention,” Fryar says.

Fryar has no formal training in horticulture, but it was something that interested him way back when he was growing up on a farm in North Carolina.“I grew up a poor kid. I was the first African American in my school to go to college. I knew that with a little education and my talent, I could be pretty successful,” he explains.

After visitors walk around twisting shapes—some geometric, others in the form of animals—one of the last sights is a larger-than-life phrase emblazoned on the ground: "love, peace, and goodwill," words that sum up Fryar's vision. “As long as you stay away from politics and religion, you can reach a lot of people. That’s what it’s all about.”

Location: 145 Broad Acres Rd., Bishopville, SC 29010

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Fun Fact: Fryar’s belief in the ethos of hard work and integrity led him to establish the Pearl Fryar Scholarship Fund, a scholarship awarded to young people whose talents may not show up in test scores, so that they can attend trade schools, junior college, or community college.

The lake is one of the most popular places to fish, picnic, or relax at Mill Race Park.

photo by: Don Nissen

Mill Race Park—Columbus, Indiana

There was once a plot of land near downtown Columbus, Indiana, called Death Valley. It was a place one avoided; it had few sights or attractions, and it flooded every time the Flatrock and White Rivers rose. But in the late 1980s, as the country was planning the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus arriving in America, the community turned to Death Valley as the perfect project for the anniversary.

“A legacy group came together and decided to make it a world-class park that everyone in Columbus could enjoy,” says Chuck Wilt, former director of the Parks and Recreation division in Columbus and member of the legacy committee for the future Mill Race Park.

The group selected the landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates to design the landscape, while Stanley Saitowitz designed the structures. Funding came from local nonprofits and donations, and a large portion of the labor was supplied through the Atterbury Job Corps, which helps young people living in low-income neighborhoods learn technical skills.

The centerpiece of the new park is the earthen amphitheater. It hosts a variety of concerts, shows, and events, including the annual Our Hospice concert, which attracts up to 15,000 members of the community. A boathouse, arbor, two lakes ideal for fishing, a covered bridge, picnic shelters, and an 84-foot-tall observation tower provide recreation for everyone.

Location: 50 Carl Miske Dr., Columbus, IN 47201

Hours: Daily, 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Fun Fact: The landscape and the park’s structures, including the amphitheater, basketball courts, fishing pier, and picnic shelters are all designed to flood. When the rivers rise, they flood the park, not the surrounding area.


From the esplanade you can explore both the skyline from the Hudson River or the various parks inside Battery Park City.

photo by: Sahar Coston-Hardy

Battery Park City—New York City

Not to be confused with the nearby Battery Park, Battery Park City is a unique community of residential, commercial, and retail with 36 acres of open space. Connected by a paved esplanade that runs north to south along the Hudson River, Battery Park City is made up of smaller landscapes and pockets of residences that, while still being very much a part of New York City, shows a different side.

“It’s part of the city. It feels like New York City,” says Lucinda Sanders, current CEO and partner at Olin, who helped with the master plan while in graduate school. "You see the [city] grid come through."

Located at the southwestern tip of the Manhattan waterfront and close to the Financial District, Battery Park City developed from 92 acres of landfill. Led by the firm Cooper Robertson and supported by landscape architecture firm Olin (then known as Hanna/Olin) the master plan accounted for every detail of the community after the architects carefully studied the surrounding environment. The esplanade’s railing, for example, is open so people have clear views of the water. The lighting fixtures match with what was common at the time the park was constructed.

The parks and public art within Battery Park City were created by many different designers and artists, but these separate components create an organic and continuous waterfront park. "It looks to be designed by one hand, but there's really many," says Sanders.

In addition to green spaces like Rockefeller Park (one of the biggest in Battery Park City) and Teardrop Park, there are significant pieces of public art, such as the Irish Hunger Memorial, and stops like the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

Location: New York, NY

Hours: Daily

Fun Fact: Battery Park City used to be an active shipping port that slowed down in the 1950s. Debris from construction projects (including the World Trade Center) helped fill in the 92 acres.

Ponce City Market on view from the Atlanta BeltLine.

photo by: Christopher T. Martin

Atlanta BeltLine—Atlanta

By 2030, 22 miles of transit and 33 miles of trails will encircle Atlanta. While that’s still years away, locals and visitors can take advantage of where the Atlanta BeltLine is now—five trails, seven parks, and 11 miles in different parts of the city, all on historic railroad lines.

“Neighborhoods changed depending on where they lined up on the tracks,” explains Jenny Odom, communications and media relations manager with Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. “The tracks served as a dividing line in so many ways. We’re removing that barrier. It’s incredible to move through the neighborhoods on these pedestrian areas.”

The BeltLine, which developed out of a 1999 master’s thesis in 2005, has a few tenets that govern its growth: It needs to support affordable workforce housing, job creation, public health, environmental cleanup, public art, and historic preservation. Covering these objectives is the giant umbrella of sustainability.

“In 2005, all of those elements came into play. They stay the same, but we revisit to check in and see what our next steps are,” says Odom.

You can find almost anything you need on the trails, whether it’s a tall glass of kombucha or a rooftop biergarden. On any given day, you can enjoy free fitness classes, an arboretum, an urban farm, and the South’s largest temporary public art exhibition, in addition to the many new restaurants, breweries, and public spaces that have opened up. There have even been a few adaptive re-use projects along the BeltLine, like Ponce City Market, a 2.1 million-square-foot industrial warehouse nobody knew what to do with. Now, it’s a popular stop for Atlantans to shop and eat.

Location: Atlanta, GA

Hours: Daily

Fun Fact: Every spring the BeltLine holds a juried competition to choose the exhibitions, including sculpture, performances, and murals, that are displayed along the trail.

Join Today to Help Save Places That Matter.

Your support as a Member is critical to ensuring our success protecting America's heritage for future generations.

Meghan White is a historic preservationist and an assistant editor for Preservation magazine. She has a penchant for historic stables, absorbing stories of the past, and one day rehabilitating a Charleston single house.

mwhite@savingplaces.org

Join us in celebrating remarkable American women and the places where they made history.

Take the Pledge

Join today to help save places that matter.

Join Now