Perhaps the single-most important event that would trigger the public's embrace of Harrisburg's City Beautiful movement was the speech given on the evening of December 20, 1900, to the Harrisburg Board of Trade by social reformer and environmentalist Mira Lloyd Dock (1853-1945). Dock, who was born and raised in Harrisburg, formed a collaboration in the 1890's with noted Harrisburg printer and horticulturalist, J. Horace McFarland, to spearhead a new environmental consciousness, which established Harrisburg as one of the first national models for urban beautification and civic enhancement. With a background in the study of biology both in America and Europe, Dock's sensitivity to nature and ecology was applied to the Harrisburg "experiment." Her focus upon the unsanitary conditions of the Susquehanna River and riverfront, which had been the depository for rubbish and garbage prior to the establishment of municipal trash collection serves, was the catalyst to the creation of the Harrisburg League of Municipal Improvements and to the City's commitment to upgrade its parks and public works infrastructure. Dock and her family lived here in the house at 1427 N. Front Street at the turn of the 20th Century. Of great coincidence was that the land upon which this house was erected in the 1890's was earlier the nursery of Horace McFarland's father. It was here where McFarland lived as a youth and where he acquired his appreciation for flowers, seeds and botany before establishing Breeze Hill in Bellevue Park at Harrisburg's eastern end. Dock went on to serve for 13 years as an early member of the Pennsylvania State Forest Reserve Commission, the first woman to be appointed to a government post in Pennsylvania. There she led efforts in the acquisition of many of the Commonwealth's state forests for which she is also widely remembered.
1889 City Atlas showing the Southeast corner of N. Front and Reily Streets with arrow pointing to McFarland Property
1901 City Atlas showing the Southeast corner of N. Front and Reily Streets after being subdivided and developed with arrow pointing to Dock property.
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