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History of Early American Landscape Design

Difference between revisions of "Park"

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==History==
 
==History==
  
The term park denotes both private and  
+
The term park denotes both private and public expanses of ground. Eighteenth-century writers used park to refer exclusively to private grounds often enclosed by fences, walls, or ha-has; if devoted to keeping deer, it was sometimes called a deer park (see Deer park). Early nineteenth-century lexicographers continued to stress the definition of park as an expanse of private property, although Noah Webster in 1828 noted that parks also designated army encampments, perhaps anticipating the term’s increasing association with public grounds. Writers also focused upon the material advantages of parks, which included the production of timber in addition to grazing land. It is clear from treatises that parks also fulfilled aesthetic and symbolic functions.  
public expanses of ground. Eighteenth-
 
century writers used park to refer exclusively  
 
to private grounds often enclosed by  
 
fences, walls, or ha-has; if devoted to keeping  
 
deer, it was sometimes called a deer park  
 
(see Deer park). Early nineteenth-century  
 
lexicographers continued to stress the definition  
 
of park as an expanse of private property,  
 
although Noah Webster in 1828 noted  
 
that parks also designated army encampments,  
 
perhaps anticipating the term’s  
 
increasing association with public grounds.  
 
Writers also focused upon the material  
 
advantages of parks, which included the  
 
production of timber in addition to grazing  
 
land. It is clear from treatises that parks also  
 
fulfilled aesthetic and symbolic functions.  
 
  
J. C. Loudon, for example, stated in 1826  
+
J. C. Loudon, for example, stated in 1826 that a park added “grandeur and dignity to the mansion.” The notion of park as part of a large estate was closely connected to eighteenth-century British land practices, and, in particular, to the idea that land ownership provided both prestige and economic security.1 The concept translated to America despite differences in landholding practices and in the legal system. As landscape gardener A. J. Downing noted in 1851, Americans generally would have much smaller parks than their British counterparts because inheritable land and money typically were divided among descendants instead of passing only to the first son, as was the case in Great Britain.  
that a park added “grandeur and dignity to  
 
the mansion.”  
 
The notion of park as part of a large  
 
estate was closely connected to eighteenth-
 
century British land practices, and, in particular,  
 
to the idea that land ownership  
 
provided both prestige and economic security.
 
1 The concept translated to America  
 
despite differences in landholding practices  
 
and in the legal system. As landscape gardener  
 
A. J. Downing noted in 1851, Americans  
 
generally would have much smaller parks  
 
than their British counterparts because  
 
inheritable land and money typically were  
 
divided among descendants instead of passing  
 
only to the first son, as was the case in  
 
Great Britain.  
 
  
One of the earliest documented private  
+
One of the earliest documented private parks in North America, dating from the period of British colonization, was the park that surrounded the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg, Va., begun in 1699 [Fig. 1]. Hugh Jones, when describing the grounds of the College of William and Mary (1722), distinguished between the gardens immediately surrounding the building and those located in the larger 150-acre park. Nineteenth-century treatise writers maintained this distinction between gardens that were situated near the house and parks that encompassed the outlying area.  
parks in North America, dating from the  
 
period of British colonization, was the park  
 
that surrounded the Governor’s Palace in  
 
Williamsburg, Va., begun in 1699 [Fig. 1].  
 
Hugh Jones, when describing the grounds of  
 
the College of William and Mary (1722), distinguished  
 
between the gardens immediately  
 
surrounding the building and those located  
 
in the larger 150-acre park. Nineteenth-
 
century treatise writers maintained this  
 
distinction between gardens that were situated  
 
near the house and parks that encompassed  
 
the outlying area.  
 
  
Writers of garden treatises, including  
+
Writers of garden treatises, including Downing, specified how to arrange the key components of a park—grassy areas, woods, rolling hills, and water and how to establish desirable views. As styles in gardening changed, so did the arrangement of parks. Loudon in 1826 contrasted parks executed in the ancient (or geometric) style, which were “subdivided into fields . . . enclosed in walls or hedges,” with parks done in the modern (or natural) style “to resemble” the landscape of a “scattered forest.” One key aspect of parks executed in the latter style was the introduction of plantations or belts of trees to unify the landscape visually with patterns of lines of light and shadow formed by groupings of trees. Practitioners of the modern style, such as Downing, were concerned with creating discrete boundaries for parks: they often relied upon plantings either to define or to occlude views (see Ancient style and Modern style).
Downing, specified how to arrange the key  
 
components of a park—grassy areas, woods,  
 
  
rolling hills, and water—and how to establish
+
Landowners, such as William Hamilton, took the existing topography of their estates and manipulated it to fit the prevailing aesthetic. Views of late eighteenth-century estates often featured smooth lawns punctuated with clumps of trees and woods [Fig. 2]. In country house portraits, trees were often important elements—framing the house or drawing the viewer’s attention to the background. This emphasis paralleled treatise writers’ concern with trees as key components in park designs [Fig. 3]. Downing argued that artfully sited large trees added nobility, dignity, and a sense of age to a park, and he believed that such trees allowed American landscapes to rival those of the English.  
desirable views. As styles in gardening
 
changed, so did the arrangement of parks.
 
Loudon in 1826 contrasted parks executed in
 
the ancient (or geometric) style, which were
 
“subdivided into fields . . . enclosed in walls
 
or hedges,” with parks done in the modern
 
(or natural) style “to resemble” the landscape
 
of a “scattered forest.” One key  
 
aspect of parks executed in the latter style
 
was the introduction of plantations or belts
 
of trees to unify the landscape visually with
 
patterns of lines of light and shadow formed
 
by groupings of trees. Practitioners of the  
 
modern style, such as Downing, were concerned
 
with creating discrete boundaries for
 
parks: they often relied upon plantings
 
either to define or to occlude views (see
 
Ancient style and Modern style).  
 
  
Landowners, such as William Hamilton,  
+
Public parks, open landscaped spaces under government control, accommodated a wide variety of functions. Generally located in urban settings, many eighteenth- and nineteenth-century parks evolved from land originally set aside for commons, city squares, bowling greens, or other forms of pleasure grounds (see Common). Pierre-Charles L’Enfant described his plan for the national Mall in Washington, D.C., as a “place of general resort.”2 With the growth of towns and cities in the first half of the nineteenth century and attendant fears of crowding and disease, civic improvement campaigners repeatedly expressed a desire to designate green spaces or parks that could act as “lungs” to bring in fresh air and mitigate toxic urban ills. Moreover, with the marked popularity of rural cemeteries in the 1840s, it became evident that urban populations were interested in open spaces. Public spaces were called parks early in America, but were also described as public grounds, public gardens, pleasure grounds, or pleasure gardens, to underscore either their accessibility to citizens or their leisure function (see Pleasure ground and Public garden).  
took the existing topography of their estates
 
and manipulated it to fit the prevailing aesthetic.  
 
Views of late eighteenth-century  
 
estates often featured smooth lawns punctuated
 
with clumps of trees and woods
 
[Fig. 2]. In country house portraits, trees
 
were often important elements—framing
 
the house or drawing the viewer’s attention
 
to the background. This emphasis paralleled
 
treatise writers’ concern with trees as key
 
components in park designs [Fig. 3]. Downing argued that artfully sited large
 
trees added nobility, dignity, and a sense of
 
age to a park, and he believed that such
 
trees allowed American landscapes to rival
 
those of the English.  
 
  
Public parks, open landscaped spaces
+
A desire for sites of public commemoration also stimulated the development of public parks. The designation of the national Mall in Washington, D.C., as a park was linked intimately with the mission of public education envisioned by its founders. For example, in 1851 Downing described the Mall as a “sylvan museum”—an institution that would shape public taste in landscaping and in the selection of trees and plants.3
under government control, accommodated a
 
wide variety of functions. Generally located
 
in urban settings, many eighteenth- and
 
nineteenth-century parks evolved from land
 
originally set aside for commons, city squares,
 
bowling greens, or other forms of pleasure
 
grounds (see Common). Pierre-Charles
 
L’Enfant described his plan for the national  
 
Mall in Washington, D.C., as a “place of general
 
resort.”2 With the growth of towns and
 
cities in the first half of the nineteenth century
 
and attendant fears of crowding and disease,
 
civic improvement campaigners
 
repeatedly expressed a desire to designate
 
green spaces or parks that could act as
 
“lungs” to bring in fresh air and mitigate toxic
 
urban ills. Moreover, with the marked popularity
 
of rural cemeteries in the 1840s, it
 
became evident that urban populations were
 
interested in open spaces. Public spaces were
 
called parks early in America, but were also
 
described as public grounds, public gardens,
 
pleasure grounds, or pleasure gardens, to
 
underscore either their accessibility to citizens
 
or their leisure function (see Pleasure
 
ground and Public garden).  
 
  
A desire for sites of public commemoration
+
As was the case with many city parks, the land for present-day City Hall Park in New York originally was set aside as a common early in the city’s history. In 1803, when City Hall was erected on a site next to it, this land was designated as a park. Ornamented with gates, fountains, and plantings, it provided an elegant setting for the public building, according to the descriptions of William Dickinson Martin (1809) and John Lambert (1816), and a printed view of the park area (c. 1849) [Fig. 4]. Similarly, the oval Union Park in New York, often illustrated, had a large central fountain [Fig. 5]. Both parks featured broad walks and trees and shrubs. In these parks and others, significant goals of civic improvement—clean water, fresh air,
also stimulated the development of
+
green spaces—were united.4 Bowling Green [Fig. 6] and Battery Park [Fig. 7] are two more New York public parks that date from the early eighteenth century.  
public parks. The designation of the national
 
Mall in Washington, D.C., as a park was
 
linked intimately with the mission of public
 
education envisioned by its founders. For
 
example, in 1851 Downing described the Mall
 
as a “sylvan museum”—an institution that
 
would shape public taste in landscaping and
 
in the selection of trees and plants.3
 
  
As was the case with many city parks, the  
+
Although New York City’s most important park, Central Park, was not designed until 1856, the idea for large-scale open space for the city dates much earlier. In 1811, the Streets Commission of New York produced a survey of the city, plotted by John Randel, Jr., to serve as a template for future development, and it put into place the grid that today still distinguishes the city. This grid also included open spaces, most significantly a “Grand Parade,” 240 acres bounded by Third and Seventh Avenues, and 23rd and 34th Streets, and this area was intended for military exercise, assembly, and, if necessary, “the force destined to defend the City.”5 The concept of open space in the city was taken up again in the late 1840s and early 1850s, perhaps most notably by Downing in the Horticulturist. Claiming that the city’s existing parks were inadequate for the task of providing “exercise and refreshment of her jaded citizens,” Downing pushed for the creation of a large park, more than five hundred acres, to be located between 39th Street and the Harlem River. He proposed that it contain, among other attractions, carriage rides, monumental sculpture, water works, and walks set within green fields. Although Downing did not live to see this vision realized, his proposal anticipated Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s Central Park, and more generally, the American park movement.6
land for present-day City Hall Park in New  
 
York originally was set aside as a common
 
early in the city’s history. In 1803, when City
 
Hall was erected on a site next to it, this land
 
was designated as a park. Ornamented with
 
gates, fountains, and plantings, it provided
 
an elegant setting for the public building,  
 
according to the descriptions of William
 
Dickinson Martin (1809) and John Lambert
 
(1816), and a printed view of the park area
 
  
(c. 1849) [Fig. 4]. Similarly, the oval Union
+
-- ''Anne L. Helmreich''
Park in New York, often illustrated, had a
 
large central fountain [Fig. 5]. Both parks
 
featured broad walks and trees and shrubs.
 
In these parks and others, significant goals
 
of civic improvement—clean water, fresh air,
 
green spaces—were united.4 Bowling Green
 
[Fig. 6] and Battery Park [Fig. 7] are two
 
more New York public parks that date from
 
the early eighteenth century.
 
 
 
Although New York City’s most important
 
park, Central Park, was not designed until
 
1856, the idea for large-scale open space for
 
the city dates much earlier. In 1811, the
 
Streets Commission of New York produced a
 
survey of the city, plotted by John Randel, Jr.,
 
to serve as a template for future development,
 
and it put into place the grid that
 
today still distinguishes the city. This grid
 
also included open spaces, most significantly
 
a “Grand Parade,” 240 acres bounded by
 
Third and Seventh Avenues, and 23rd and
 
34th Streets, and this area was intended for
 
military exercise, assembly, and, if necessary,
 
“the force destined to defend the
 
City.”5 The concept of open space in the city
 
was taken up again in the late 1840s and
 
early 1850s, perhaps most notably by Downing
 
in the Horticulturist. Claiming that the
 
city’s existing parks were inadequate for the
 
task of providing “exercise and refreshment
 
of her jaded citizens,” Downing pushed for
 
the creation of a large park, more than five
 
hundred acres, to be located between 39th
 
Street and the Harlem River. He proposed
 
that it contain, among other attractions, carriage
 
rides, monumental sculpture, water
 
works, and walks set within green fields.
 
Although Downing did not live to see this
 
vision realized, his proposal anticipated
 
Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s
 
Central Park, and more generally, the American
 
park movement.6
 
 
 
ALH
 
  
 
==Texts==
 
==Texts==

Revision as of 17:02, February 2, 2016

History

The term park denotes both private and public expanses of ground. Eighteenth-century writers used park to refer exclusively to private grounds often enclosed by fences, walls, or ha-has; if devoted to keeping deer, it was sometimes called a deer park (see Deer park). Early nineteenth-century lexicographers continued to stress the definition of park as an expanse of private property, although Noah Webster in 1828 noted that parks also designated army encampments, perhaps anticipating the term’s increasing association with public grounds. Writers also focused upon the material advantages of parks, which included the production of timber in addition to grazing land. It is clear from treatises that parks also fulfilled aesthetic and symbolic functions.

J. C. Loudon, for example, stated in 1826 that a park added “grandeur and dignity to the mansion.” The notion of park as part of a large estate was closely connected to eighteenth-century British land practices, and, in particular, to the idea that land ownership provided both prestige and economic security.1 The concept translated to America despite differences in landholding practices and in the legal system. As landscape gardener A. J. Downing noted in 1851, Americans generally would have much smaller parks than their British counterparts because inheritable land and money typically were divided among descendants instead of passing only to the first son, as was the case in Great Britain.

One of the earliest documented private parks in North America, dating from the period of British colonization, was the park that surrounded the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg, Va., begun in 1699 [Fig. 1]. Hugh Jones, when describing the grounds of the College of William and Mary (1722), distinguished between the gardens immediately surrounding the building and those located in the larger 150-acre park. Nineteenth-century treatise writers maintained this distinction between gardens that were situated near the house and parks that encompassed the outlying area.

Writers of garden treatises, including Downing, specified how to arrange the key components of a park—grassy areas, woods, rolling hills, and water and how to establish desirable views. As styles in gardening changed, so did the arrangement of parks. Loudon in 1826 contrasted parks executed in the ancient (or geometric) style, which were “subdivided into fields . . . enclosed in walls or hedges,” with parks done in the modern (or natural) style “to resemble” the landscape of a “scattered forest.” One key aspect of parks executed in the latter style was the introduction of plantations or belts of trees to unify the landscape visually with patterns of lines of light and shadow formed by groupings of trees. Practitioners of the modern style, such as Downing, were concerned with creating discrete boundaries for parks: they often relied upon plantings either to define or to occlude views (see Ancient style and Modern style).

Landowners, such as William Hamilton, took the existing topography of their estates and manipulated it to fit the prevailing aesthetic. Views of late eighteenth-century estates often featured smooth lawns punctuated with clumps of trees and woods [Fig. 2]. In country house portraits, trees were often important elements—framing the house or drawing the viewer’s attention to the background. This emphasis paralleled treatise writers’ concern with trees as key components in park designs [Fig. 3]. Downing argued that artfully sited large trees added nobility, dignity, and a sense of age to a park, and he believed that such trees allowed American landscapes to rival those of the English.

Public parks, open landscaped spaces under government control, accommodated a wide variety of functions. Generally located in urban settings, many eighteenth- and nineteenth-century parks evolved from land originally set aside for commons, city squares, bowling greens, or other forms of pleasure grounds (see Common). Pierre-Charles L’Enfant described his plan for the national Mall in Washington, D.C., as a “place of general resort.”2 With the growth of towns and cities in the first half of the nineteenth century and attendant fears of crowding and disease, civic improvement campaigners repeatedly expressed a desire to designate green spaces or parks that could act as “lungs” to bring in fresh air and mitigate toxic urban ills. Moreover, with the marked popularity of rural cemeteries in the 1840s, it became evident that urban populations were interested in open spaces. Public spaces were called parks early in America, but were also described as public grounds, public gardens, pleasure grounds, or pleasure gardens, to underscore either their accessibility to citizens or their leisure function (see Pleasure ground and Public garden).

A desire for sites of public commemoration also stimulated the development of public parks. The designation of the national Mall in Washington, D.C., as a park was linked intimately with the mission of public education envisioned by its founders. For example, in 1851 Downing described the Mall as a “sylvan museum”—an institution that would shape public taste in landscaping and in the selection of trees and plants.3

As was the case with many city parks, the land for present-day City Hall Park in New York originally was set aside as a common early in the city’s history. In 1803, when City Hall was erected on a site next to it, this land was designated as a park. Ornamented with gates, fountains, and plantings, it provided an elegant setting for the public building, according to the descriptions of William Dickinson Martin (1809) and John Lambert (1816), and a printed view of the park area (c. 1849) [Fig. 4]. Similarly, the oval Union Park in New York, often illustrated, had a large central fountain [Fig. 5]. Both parks featured broad walks and trees and shrubs. In these parks and others, significant goals of civic improvement—clean water, fresh air, green spaces—were united.4 Bowling Green [Fig. 6] and Battery Park [Fig. 7] are two more New York public parks that date from the early eighteenth century.

Although New York City’s most important park, Central Park, was not designed until 1856, the idea for large-scale open space for the city dates much earlier. In 1811, the Streets Commission of New York produced a survey of the city, plotted by John Randel, Jr., to serve as a template for future development, and it put into place the grid that today still distinguishes the city. This grid also included open spaces, most significantly a “Grand Parade,” 240 acres bounded by Third and Seventh Avenues, and 23rd and 34th Streets, and this area was intended for military exercise, assembly, and, if necessary, “the force destined to defend the City.”5 The concept of open space in the city was taken up again in the late 1840s and early 1850s, perhaps most notably by Downing in the Horticulturist. Claiming that the city’s existing parks were inadequate for the task of providing “exercise and refreshment of her jaded citizens,” Downing pushed for the creation of a large park, more than five hundred acres, to be located between 39th Street and the Harlem River. He proposed that it contain, among other attractions, carriage rides, monumental sculpture, water works, and walks set within green fields. Although Downing did not live to see this vision realized, his proposal anticipated Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s Central Park, and more generally, the American park movement.6

-- Anne L. Helmreich

Texts

Usage

Citations

Images

Notes

Retrieved from "https://heald.nga.gov/mediawiki/index.php?title=Park&oldid=18118"

History of Early American Landscape Design contributors, "Park," History of Early American Landscape Design, , https://heald.nga.gov/mediawiki/index.php?title=Park&oldid=18118 (accessed December 2, 2022).

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