66 DESIGNNEWENGLAND.COM JULY/AUGUST 2016
Acadia the Beautiful
A magical meeting of mountains and sea, this New England treasure marks its centennial year
Perhaps it was only a coincidence that the settlers of Bar Harbor, the idyllic Maine town that anchors Aca- dia National Park, originally chose to name their vil- lage after a British statesman with the surname Eden. Still, it’s hard to imagine a more fitting description of this area’s paradisiacal confluence of water, land, and
sky. Giovanni da Verrazzano, the first European who sailed by, in 1524,
noticed it too, calling the region Arcadia, after the idealized wilderness of Greek mythology.
The name morphed a bit over the next five centuries, but this year
Acadia is celebrating the centennial of its declaration, by President
Woodrow Wilson, as a national monument. A few years later, in 1919,
Congress designated it a national park, the first one east of the Mis-
sissippi. Home to 20 mountains (one, Cadillac, the tallest on the East
Coast), some of the clearest lakes in the state of Maine, and a stunning
network of carriage paths built by John D. Rockefeller Jr., it was vis-
ited last year by roughly 2 million people.
The vast majority travels across a single road from the mainland
to Mount Desert Island. “That’s a 50-fold increase in traffic since the
park opened,” says National Park Service spokesman John T. Kelly.
“Our challenge today is to manage this beautiful place’s popularity,” he continues, citing a long-term transportation plan, including
improvements to the bus system.
Like its beauty, Acadia’s popularity is nothing new. By 1880,
written by bruce irving
tranquil and clear, Eagle Lake is,
at 436 acres, the largest freshwater
body in Acadia National Park. From
its northern shore, the view is to
North Bubble Mountain.