Contemplation near Drum Bridge

Contemplation near Drum Bridge

A gentleman, his boater hat placed next to him, writes while seated near the entrance to the cave on what is known today as Turtle Island at the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  Believed to have been taken in the early 1920’s, this photograph also shows part of the well-known Drum Bridge leading to the island at right partially reflecting into the pond. It is very possible the person shown is the photographer of the scene. This century-old Japanese garden is described thus by the Garden’s website:

The Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden is one of the oldest and most visited Japanese-inspired gardens outside Japan. It is a blend of the ancient hill-and-pond style and the more recent stroll-garden style, in which various landscape features are gradually revealed along winding paths. The garden features artificial hills contoured around a pond, a waterfall, and an island while carefully placed rocks also play a leading role. Among the major architectural elements of the garden are wooden bridges, stone lanterns, a viewing pavilion, the torii or gateway, and a Shinto shrine.


The Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden was the first Japanese garden to be created in an American public garden. It was constructed in 1914 and 1915—at an initial cost of $13,000, a gift of early BBG benefactor and trustee Alfred T. White—and it first opened to the public in June 1915. It is considered to be the masterpiece of its creator, Japanese landscape designer Takeo Shiota (1881–1943). Shiota was born in a small village about 40 miles from Tokyo, and in his youth spent years traversing Japan on foot to explore the natural landscape. In 1907 he came to America, driven by an ambition to create, in his words, “a garden more beautiful than all others in the world.” (1.)

This photograph, with title supplied by this archive, is by an Unknown Brooklyn amateur photographer whose surviving work was discovered in a trunk in the American South and acquired by PhotoSeed. Background can be found at link on Associated Blog Posts within this page.

1. excerpt: Overview & History: Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden: Brooklyn Botanic Garden online resource accessed November, 2015.

Contemplation near Drum Bridge

Image Dimensions11.4 x 8.8 cm

Support DimensionsDetail: 17.7 x 12.6 cm cream-colored, photographic paper stock