Parsons Spent All Day at Park and Is Enthusiastic ~ SD Union, December 24, 1902

December 24, 1902


Mr. Parsons Spent All Day Yesterday Upon Park Site and Is Most Enthusiastic

Says He is Beginning to See Daylight and in a Couple of Days Will Be Able to Outline a Definite Plan

Samuel Parsons, Jr., the landscape architect, spent all day yesterday going over the site of the new park, and when seen last evening was tired but enthusiastic.

In the morning he went out with Mr. Brandagee, and in the afternoon he went over the ground by himself. “As I stated last evening,” he began, “I have a big proposition but I feel better, for I begin to see daylight. I have decided that the lower end of the park is the place for the botanical gardens, art galleries, and other places of amusement. This will preserve the natural contour of the park, and what is more, it will make these places more convenient. I do not believe in cutting up a park into a thousand and one little ‘gim-cracks.’ The idea nowadays is to treat a park as much as possible to make it conform to nature. There should be nothing artificial.

“I have a particularly difficult problem in this park, for, first, in tropical countries parks are not going into to any great extent. What I mean to say is this, natural parks on natural lines are comparatively rare in the tropics. Consequently, I have few models to study. The general idea in these countries is to have a palm or botanical garden or an avenue of palms. I do not believe in following any set rules, but you know it is always a good thing to have a precedent. There are certain general principles to adhere to in the manner of treating parks in the north, which is not so in the south. Here is where the north comes a little ahead of the south, I think. Italy, however, is an exception. The Italians have been comparative up-to-date in the park question, but it is not so in other southern countries, as Spain and Greece. There is one thing, however, that I am sure of, the lower part of the park is the place for the amusements and buildings.

“Several people here seem to have a hobby on water. I wish to state that work on this line does not come in the designing of a park until towards its close. It is, in fact, a secondary question. It also is the work of an engineer. I have had a great deal of trouble with water in the east, on account of the accumulation of decayed vegetable matter. In this country conditions are different. The soil seems to be of a more sandy nature, and I think there will be little or no trouble on that score.

“I wish to avoid as much as possible doing anything small, in my treatment of this park. I want to treat it in a large, general manner, until I have evolved a practical scheme to go at it. Then I will push it through as quickly a possible.

“This park covers 1,400 acres, and is nearly double the size of Central Park in New York City, but in a couple of days I think I will begin to see my way clearly. I do not want to upset any of the natural conditions of things. Your country is certainly beautiful. I was up this afternoon in the upper canyon and saw the sun set. It reminded me of a lovely spring day in the east. I would hate to mar any of that beautiful view. The very moment the least little thing is done wrong, the harmony of the whole will be spoiled. So I want to make haste slowly. I was looking at the Golden Hill park, and the slopes are so high and beautiful that the magnitude of my task came upon me today. I wish you has that Golden Hill park on this side.

“The greatest trouble I think I will have, will be with roads. In fact, I think I have never had a more difficult problem. I wish to get in and through the mesa which will necessarily involve a most complicated system. You see the little canyons fold in and out and in some places rise up to a hundred feet or more. Consequently, the road systems will have to be shifted a lot before I will get at the right thing.

“My plans are briefly as follows: I will go out and get a lot of stuff, go over the ground again and again, until I have hit upon the general plan, then digest and work it over, until I see it definitely before me. I will then be able to go to work intelligently. It is the worse thing in the world to get an idea then force it. A man should always know when he is going up against a stone wall, and not smash his head. After I get the ideas in my head I will go back east and work out the plans. I will have considerable difficulty with the planting problem, but I think I will find assistance in Mr. Brandagee and Miss Sessions, and I will keep in touch with them. I learned a good deal from Mr. McLaren when I was in San Francisco. I like that man. He is so practical. There is no nonsense about him. He gave me many most valuable points.”

Return to Samuel Parsons and Balboa Park.