On-line Book

Book Cover
Presenting Nature








Design Ethic Origins

Design Policy & Process

Western Field Office

Park Planning

Decade of Expansion

State Parks

Appendix A

Appendix B


Presenting Nature:
The Historic Landscape Design of the National Park Service, 1916-1942
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In the construction of roads, trails, buildings, and other improvements, particular attention must be devoted always to the harmonizing of these improvements with the landscape. This is a most important item in our program of development and requires the employment of trained engineers who either possess a knowledge of landscape architecture or have a proper appreciation of the esthetic value of park lands.

—National Park Service, Statement of Policy, 1918

When the National Park Service took charge of the parks and monuments in 1917, seventeen national parks and twenty-two national monuments were administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The parks covered an area of 9,772.76 square miles, while the monuments covered 143.32 square miles. The service inherited the facilities developed by former administering bodies—the U.S. Army, the railroads and concessionaires, and, in the case of Yosemite, the state of California. A varied assortment of roads, trails, patrol cabins, and rudimentary ranger stations existed in most parks, but in general visits to the parks were hampered by poor roads and lack of facilities. By far the grandest of park architecture were the hotels that concessionaires, often subsidiaries of the western railroads, had built at Yellowstone, Glacier, and Crater Lake. Concessionaires, too, operated campgrounds and provided touring cars to transport visitors to the scenic features of the park. In some parks, private organizations had built lodges, such as the Parsons Memorial Lodge at Yosemite built in 1915 by the Sierra Club. [1]

In 1914, the secretary of the interior appointed Mark Daniels to the newly created position of general superintendent of Yosemite National Park and landscape engineer for national parks. To Daniels was entrusted the job of readying the national parks for the public. Although he could plan building groups with a common architectural theme on paper, there were little or no funds to carry out these plans. Daniels's efforts, however, established the concept of an architectural scheme whereby a type of architecture is determined "in light of a careful study of the best arrangement of the buildings and for picturesqueness." [2]

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