Ignatz Anton Pilát

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Ignatz A. Pilat, landscape gardener.jpg

Ignaz Anton Pilat (1820–1870) was an Austrian-born gardener who migrated to the United States to work on the design and planting of New York City's Central Park.

Pilat was born on June 27, 1820 in St. Agatha, Upper Austria. After studying botany at the University of Vienna, he obtained a position at the Imperial Botanical Gardens of the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, where he acquired technical skills and participated in a botanical survey of the site. Later he was a gardener in Venice, which he fled during the political troubles of 1848.

Pilat submitted an unofficial entry to the competition for design of Central Park. This gained him the attention of Frederick Law Olmsted, who called him to New York as foreman of the gardeners. In 1863, this industrious and modest man rose to be Chief Gardener and Superintendent of the park, a position he retained for the rest of his life.

Although the overall plans of Central Park were prepared by the architects, Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, credit has been given to Ignaz Pilat for the choice of plants, their distribution, and the detailed landscaping of the park. The much admired landscaped vistas owed their design to his knowledge and use of a wide variety of plants. Pilát’s characteristic style is found in many areas of the park.

About 1870 Pilat, redesigned Washington Square Park in New York, which at that time was laid out as a military parade ground. Influenced by Frederick Law Olmsted, Pilat introduced more curvaceous paths to soften the military-straight lines of the old parade ground.

Pilat died of consumption at his home in New York in September 1870, leaving "a wife and several children very poorly provided for".[1]

Carl Francis Pilat (1876-1933), the nephew of Pilát, was an organizing member of the firm of Hinchman & Pilat,[3] then landscape architect for the city parks 1913-1918.[4] While with the city, Carl Pilat designed Astoria Park,[5] the Telewan project (later named Jacob Riis Park) in Queens, both around 1913,[6]:2·3 and redesigns of Union Square and Isham, Gaynor memorial and Silver Lake parks. Pilat drew landscape designs for estates of C. H. Dodge, Spencer Trask, E. M. Shepard, E. K. Cone and the Baroness von Zimmerman, some of the gardens at what later became the Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit, NJ, and the Theodore Vail memorial[4] in Parsippany, NJ.[3]


  1. ^ Obituary of Ignaz A. Pilat, New York Times, September 20, 1870.
  2. ^ IPNI.  I.A.Pilat.
  3. ^ a b White, J.T., The National Cyclopædia of American Biography Volume 15 (1916); accessed via Google Books search for 'Hinchman & Pilat ignaz pilat', with publisher detail via 'About this book' link there. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  4. ^ a b "Carl F. Pilat Dead; Beautified Parks", New York Times, May 30, 1933. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  5. ^ "Astoria Park Pool and Play Center" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. June 20, 2006. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  6. ^ "Cultural Landscape Report: Jacob Riis Park" (PDF). United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service. 1992. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 25, 2017. Retrieved September 3, 2017.

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