The State Park Movement in America: A Crictical Review

By Ney C. Landrum | Go to book overview

1
“Parks Americana”

The Genesis

America is truly a land of parks. Look anywhere across this vast, sprawling continent—from the city centers to the suburban neighborhoods to the remotest hinterlands—and you will find those special places where Americans like to roam, romp, or relax. As different as these sundry properties may otherwise be, they are all still affectionately known by the people as their “parks.”

While the idea did not originate here, it most certainly achieved the pinnacle of its expression in the myriad forms of parklands that grace our countrysides from one ocean to the other. In numbers and variety, the parks of America put this country in a class by itself. Not only have they helped shape our landscapes and preserve our national heritage, but, as an exciting and universally popular concept, parks have become permanently ingrained in the American psyche and helped mold us as a people.

Almost from the time European settlers established themselves on these shores, they began setting aside various plots of land for their common use and enjoyment. Dictated at first by practicality, the preservation of public spaces in time became a form of aesthetic expression as towns and cities continued to grow and develop. Most of these early efforts evidenced a strong European influence, of course, following the ideas and models that had been brought over from the Old World countries; but adaptation to new and challenging conditions on this continent soon brought about distinctly American variations. Such modest beginnings hardly constituted a foundation for an American parks legacy, but they did establish valuable precedents for public open space preservation that have served us well to this day.

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