“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Madison in Dane County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Yahara River Parkway

Yahara River Parkway Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Gordon Govier, June 13, 2009
1. Yahara River Parkway Marker
Inscription.  In January 1903, the leader of Madison's park development and President of the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association, John M. Olin, presented a grand development plan for the Yahara River to city leaders. The plan called for deepening, widening and straightening the river between lakes Mendota and Monona and creating a parkway. In only six months, and with contributions from many Madison citizens, Olin and the Park and Pleasure Drive Association raised the money and secured the land to begin construction. The Yahara River Parkway was designed by renowned landscape architect Ossian Cole Simonds, who fostered a regional style of landscape architecture known as the "Prairie School." Using native Midwestern plants such as hawthorne, dogwood and crabapple, Simonds created a naturalistic landscape for the parkway. As part of the design, several bridges were erected or reconstructed, and a lock was built at the Mendota outlet for boat passage between the lakes. The parkway was completed in 1906.
Erected 1996 by the Wisconsin State Historical Society. (Marker Number 340.)
Topics and series. This
Yahara River Parkway image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Gordon Govier, June 13, 2009
2. Yahara River Parkway
The photo shows the area around the marker, looking south.
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historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureParks & Recreational AreasRoads & VehiclesWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Wisconsin Historical Society series list. A significant historical month for this entry is January 1903.
Location. 43° 5.289′ N, 89° 21.515′ W. Marker is in Madison, Wisconsin, in Dane County. Marker is at the intersection of South Thornton Avenue and Williamson Street, on the right when traveling north on South Thornton Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Madison WI 53703, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. John A. Johnson made Madison's Factory District Flourish (approx. 0.2 miles away); Steensland Bridge (approx. 0.2 miles away); Anton F. and Mary Kubicek Duplex (approx. ¼ mile away); Burr Jones Field (approx. ¼ mile away); a different marker also named Steensland Bridge (approx. ¼ mile away); a different marker also named Yahara River Parkway (approx. ¼ mile away); George Soelch Investment House (approx.
Yahara River image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Gordon Govier, June 13, 2009
3. Yahara River
The photo shows the Yahara River running in back of the location of the marker.
0.3 miles away); Frank J. Hess and Sons Cooperage / Frank J. Hess, Cooper (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Madison.
Regarding Yahara River Parkway. According to the Madison Landmarks Commission, which designated the Yahara River Parkway a landmark (no. 126) in 1995, "The Yahara River Parkway was designed by noted landscape architect O. C. Simonds of Chicago. At the time it was at the eastern edge of the City. When European-Americans first settled here, the Yahara River meandered through marshland between Lakes Mendota and Monona. It had been canalized for use by the mills at the northern end of the river, and was used as an informal trash dump for decades.

"The parkway was developed by the Madison Parks and Pleasure Drive Association, a group of private citizens who worked tirelessly at the turn of the last century to provide parks and scenic drives for the benefit of the citizens of Madison. The Yahara River Parkway was the first park funded by donations from Madisonians rather than large gifts from a few donors. The design of the parkway is an excellent and intact example of the Prairie School of landscape architecture, a design theory that honored the native landscapes of the Midwest and paralleled
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the Prairie School of architecture."
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. This is a list of markers that mention John Olin.
Also see . . .  Movers & Shapers. Article names Olin one of the ten most influential people in Madison history. (Submitted on July 12, 2010, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin.) 
Additional keywords. Prairie School of Architecture
Credits. This page was last revised on January 26, 2020. It was originally submitted on June 14, 2009, by Gordon Govier of Monona, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 1,259 times since then and 10 times this year. Last updated on July 4, 2010, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on June 14, 2009, by Gordon Govier of Monona, Wisconsin. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.

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Feb. 9, 2023