As my friend @seannalexander heads off to New York City and people around him mention they'd love to go but have to work and are jealous etc. I got to thinking that there's a hidden gem right here in Niagara that is perfect for an afternoon getaway "stay-cation". Little known fact: St. Catharine's own Montebello Park, 6.5 acres of tree lined lawns right in the downtown core was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted - the designer of NYC's Central Park and Prospect Park!
Named Monte Bello (beautiful mountain) by William Hamilton Merritt Jr. in reference to the nearby escarpment, this parcel of green land was originally part of the family's large holding of Niagara property. The newly incorporated City of St. Catharines purchased the land from the Merritt estate in 1887 for the city's first park and commissioned Frederick Law Olmsted, the renowned landscape architect for its design. Already well respected for New York's Central park as well as numerous other parks and college campuses in large American cities, Olmsted was, at the time, working on an extensive network of green spaces and parks across the river in Buffalo, NY.
His design for the park includes ornamental streetlamps, lawns, meandering pathways, tree lined walks, an ornamental fountain, pavilion, bandshell and the city's largest rose garden with 1300 bushes featuring 25 cultivars. The bandshell itself is of note actually. Built just after the park was completed, it is constructed on the foundation of the original Merritt estate house and modelled after Buffalo's Pan American Exhibition bandshell by Edwin Nicholson, a local builder also responsible for the Henley Grandstand in Port Dalhousie. The park itself, and all the structures are important and protected Ontario Heritage sites within the Queen St Heritage Conservation District
So since I don't have the funds or time to vacation in NYC and visit Central Park I visited the Farmers Market (not the Chelsea Market, but it does have its own dedicated building!) then went for a stroll around Montebello Park as the sun was setting, eating plums .. and plums .. and cookies .. and more plums .. until my tummy hurt. Cause that's what you do on vacation: eat sweet treats that you wouldn't normally and relaxing in the sun! (p.s. the pictures aren't just of me eating plums .. they show some of the park's architectural features .. but every time we stopped for pictures I just had to eat more plums!)
photos by @seannalexander