Parson’s First Impressions of San Diego’s Great Park ~ SD Union, December 22, 1902

December 22, 1902


His First Impressions of San Diego’s Great Park

He Thinks it Already Has Many Points of Wonderful Beauty —The View Must Not Be Obstructed

Samuel Parsons, Jr. of New York, generally credited with being Americas foremost park architect, arrived last evening on the 6:20 train. Mr. Parsons was met at the station by George W. Marston, whose generosity will provide this city with elaborate and complete plans and estimates for the improvement of the great 1400 acre area known as the San Diego city park. He was escorted to the Brewster, where he was seen later by Miss Kate Sessions and Mrs. M. B. Coulston, both of whom are greatly interested in the proposed park improvement campaign.

This morning Mr. Parsons was taken by Mr. Marston for a three-hours drive over the park, though the big Pound and Switzer canyons, over the Sixth street boulevard, across University Heights to the pavilion overlooking Mission valley, and back via Fifth street. The morning was perfect and the mountains, deep purple in color, formed an extravagantly beautiful background against which city and mesa was framed. The purple mountains, the mesa not brown now but a vivid green in most places, and the dark-blue sea, just beyond the city, evidently made a very deep impression upon Mr. Parsons, for when seen at the Brewster this morning, he was full of praise for the remarkable beauty of our surroundings.

“I have only been in San Diego a few hours,” he said. “I do not feel as though I had any right to express an opinion as to the best methods of beautifying or making your park more beautiful, for in my opinion it has many points of wonderful beauty right now. When I have been here a little longer and have studied the situation a little more carefully, perhaps I may be able to express a more intelligent opinion. I come here with no preconceived notions, and want to form my conclusions very carefully.

:Even so, I shall doubtless have to change my mind frequently and tear down what I have built up, in the way of theories. For one thing, let me tell you that such a sublime view as you have from the park is probably your greatest asset. We must do nothing to shut out that view. Those purple mountains and that shining sea must be preserved to the eye at any cost. In this respect, you see, our modus operandi will be directly opposite to that pursued in the making of eastern parks, where the object is to shut out the city and all the outside world and make a bit of nature right in the heart of a bustling city. Here we are confronted with a totally different problem. Instead of shutting out the world, we want to let all possible of the world in — the world you have here is so marvelously beautiful, we can’t afford to miss any of it.

“About dams in the park, generally speaking, I believe in using standing water very gingerly. There is always danger of green scum and noxious growths about standing pools, but if, as has been intimidated, you do not have this factor to contend with to such an extent, it might make a great difference. Anyhow, I do not want to express myself definitely on his matter until I make a further investigation.”

Mr. Parsons is a very pleasant man to meet. He is a man of ripe experience, having parks designed by him in twenty-two states and territories during the past twenty-five years. Mr. Parsons is at the present time president of the American Society of Landscape Architects and landscape architect for the American society for the preservation of scenic and historical places and objects The firm of Parsons & Co. is now engaged in a number of great projects in the park line, among the number being the plans for the 5000-acre country place of J. B. Haggin, near Lexington, Ku., which when completed will be one of the finest estates in the whole world.

Mr. Parsons at present holds the important position of landscape architect of Greater New York, which implies the control of the design of more than 100 parks, varying in size from 1000 square feet to 1700 acres.

He will remain here about two weeks on this present visit.

December 23, 1901

SAMUEL PARSONS, the highest authority on park architecture in the country, who is now here, is quoted as saying, “A park is a sort of public property and must be easy of access.” We are very glad that Mr. Parsons said that, for the council may now see the wisdom of building that long-needed road from the end of Twelfth street around the Russ school to the park grounds.

Return to Samuel Parsons and Balboa Park.