Louise Livingston - Scenic Protection Partner

Louise Livingston

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Scenic Protection Partner

In 1841, Louise Livingston and Robert Donaldson, her neighbor to the north, entered into an agreement to purchase the land around the Sawkill Creek, which ran between her property and his.

They vowed to preserve the ravine's beauty by vowing never to develop it for industrial uses (see Site Map).

The Livingston-Donaldson agreement was one of the earliest efforts to protect natural beauty, and symbolized a major shift in American cultural attitudes toward the land. It reflected how Americans were beginning to view wilderness as an aesthetic and spiritual resource to be treasured rather than simply as a fearsome threat to be tamed. As the Hudson River painter Thomas Cole stated in his “Essay on American Scenery,” meditation upon untouched nature in America should help the viewer “learn the laws by which the Eternal doth sublime and sanctify his works, that we may see the hidden glory veiled from vulgar eyes.” In other words, the viewer’s experience of nature offered a glimpse of God.

The Lake, by Alexander Jackson Davis. Watercolor on paper, c. 1840. The Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.

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