Curves of Highway 42

© Atala Dorothy Toy

Curves of Highway 42

Famed architect Jens Jensen is responsible for the elegant curves of this road. He worked with the engineers, who planned the road around key trees. Door County, Wisconsin.

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This is a famous section of road in Northern Wisconsin known to photographers simply as the Curves of Highway 42.

Nature predominates in this part of the world and, as in some areas everywhere, much of its sensibilities are the result of the dedication of a single person or group.

In this case, it is the will power of, and respect accorded to, the famous landscape architect Jens Jensen.

Jensen helped develop the American sensibilities around the value and integration of nature with man. Known as the Dean of American landscape architects, he was headquartered in Chicago and helped with the design of many of its parks including Garfield Park and Humboldt Park. He also help develop The Ridge Sanctuary in Northern Wisconsin. Much of his time was spent in Northern Wisconsin where he founded The Clearing Folk School, a well-known retreat and educational center tucked into the woods near Ellison Bay, Door County. That’s near the tip of the peninsula of land on Lake Michigan.

Jensen believed in an Ideal Highway – a road that would slow traffic and keep nature always in view. He was so well respected that when it came time for Wisconsin to build a road through the woods near The Clearing, the engineers conferred with Jensen as to its path. Jensen applied his esthetic principles here and insisted that the road wind around major trees instead of just cutting down the trees. The result was this well-photographed route with its fifteen curves.

The esthetics of the curves have entranced photographers in all weather and times of the day and year. Here it is on a rainy day in late autumn.

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