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  • Kelly D. Cook, ASLA

What is a park? The view in 1891.


"A park such as in now under consideration, should be primarily and essentially a rural retreat in a city....its highest purpose is not to furnish instruction, nor pure air, nor a place for exercise on foot or horseback, but to furnish that relief and repose of mind which natural scenery brings to those who are wearied by city sights and sounds. Of course, a park designed and constructed with such a leading motive will not fail to furnish pure air and a field for exercise and opportunity for study; but, if it is designed primarily with subordinate uses, its highest purpose will not be recieved."

Garden and Forest Magazine

March 4, 1891

I recently discovered the above quote when going thru some old files. This arguement was used to protect New York's Central Park, which was under attack from developers and politicians who wanted the property turned into something "more profitable". As a society we should remember this today, not only when defending our need for park space, but also when designing our parks. Not every site needs a soccer complex. Sometimes we just need a place to walk, sit, and listen.


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