About Elizabeth Barlow Rogers

A native of San Antonio, Texas, Elizabeth Barlow Rogers earned an undergraduate degree in art history from Wellesley College in 1957  and a master’s degree in city planning from Yale University in 1964. In 1979 she was appointed Central Park administrator. The following year, to engage citizen support for the restoration and improved management of Central Park, she founded the Central Park Conservancy, the country’s first public-private park partnership. During the fifteen years that she held the office of president, she oversaw the management and restoration of the 843-acre park and served as an advisory resource to numerous citizens desiring to create conservancies in other municipalities.

In 2002 she created a Garden History and Landscape Studies degree-granting program at the Bard Graduate Center. From 2005 until 2021 she served as founding president of the Foundation for Landscape Studies, an organization she launched to fulfill the mission of promoting an active understanding of the meaning of place in human life through the support of landscape-history scholarship. Although the foundation is no longer active, its accomplishments continue to be listed on its website. Also available on the website are electronic scans of the thirty-three issues representing a complete run of the foundation’s biannual journal, Site/Lines, featuring essays and reviews of books on subjects relating to landscape history, theory, and design.

Rogers serves as a life trustee of the Central Park Conservancy, a member of the board of the Library of American Landscape History, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and an honorary member of the American Society of Landscape Architects. She also sits on the advisory boards of the National Association of Olmsted Parks and The Olana Partnership. In addition, she is a consultative resource for the Landscape Studies Initiative launched by the University of Virginia’s  School of Architecture’s Center for Cultural Landscapes through the creation in 2019 of multidisciplinary study program with a field-based and online curriculum supported by a universally accessible digital infrastructure derived from the contents of her magnum opus, Landscape Design: A Cultural and Architectural History.

As an environmental preservationist and the owner of the 979-acre C. L. Browning Ranch in the Texas Hill Country, in 2002 Rogers, with her husband, Theodore, conceived and funded a land-stewardship initiative to promote natural resources protection, scenic-view preservation, and environmentally sound management practices. The couple has since created a private land conservation trust to ensure that the Browning Ranch remains a strategic exemplar for other Texas Hill Country ranchers.

As a writer who focuses on the history of landscape design and the cultural meaning of place, Rogers is the author of twelve books. These include The Forests and Wetlands of New York City (1971), Frederick Law Olmsted’s New York (1972), Rebuilding Central Park: A Management and Restoration Plan (1987), Landscape Design: A Cultural and Architectural History (2001), Romantic Gardens: Nature, Art, and Landscape Design (2010), Writing the Garden: A Literary Conversation Across Two Centuries (2011), Learning Las Vegas: Portrait of a Northern New Mexican Place (2013), Green Metropolis: The Extraordinary Landscape of New York City as Nature, History, and Landscape Design (2016), Saving Central Park: A History and Memoir (2018), and Writing the City: Essays on New York (2022).

In 2005 Rogers was awarded the American Society of Landscape Architecture’s LaGasse Medal, and in 2010 she received the Green-Wood Historic Fund’s Dewitt Clinton Award in Arts, Literature, Preservation, and Historic Research as well as the Rockefeller Foundation’s Jane Jacobs Medal for lifetime achievement. In 2012 she was honored with the Henry Hope Reed Award from the School of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame, and in 2013 the Preservation League of New York State bestowed on her its Pillar of New York Award. In 2016, in recognition of her lifetime achievements as a landscape historian and conservationist, she was presented with the New York Botanical Garden’s infrequently given Gold Medal.