Preliminary Work Accomplished; Grading Underway; Trees Growing Rapidly ~ SD Union, January 1, 1904

JANUARY 1, 1904, 32:1-5


Much Preliminary Work Accomplished the Past Year; Grading Now Underway; Trees Growing Rapidly

On account of the establishment of a park of 1400 acres in San Diego in 1868, the park events of succeeding years, and the beginnings of the present plan for development appeared in the Union of January 1st, 1902. Throughout the past year hearty interest and steady effort have been maintained in the work in hand, it being the object to formulate the soundest possible plan to be carried out in the best possible manner. The work undertaken by the Park Improvement committee of the chamber of commerce in the development of the park area is, at this stage, necessarily fundamental in character, and quite lacking in ornamental or sensational effects. The year has, however, not been uneventful in the forwarding of practical matters, and the impulse of this preliminary work will be yet more effective in the coming year.


During the visit of Landscape Architect Samuel Parsons, Jr., a year ago, the general method of treatment was outlined and decided upon. The need of carrying on the business of the park in a systematic, organized way, was met early in January by fitting up room 7 in the Sefton block for the office of the committee, and engaging Mrs. M. B. Coulston as secretary. Among the records of this office are the minutes of committee meetings and secretary’s reports, which give a running account of matters affecting the park work in various ways. From these records it appears that the members of the Park Improvement committee for the current year were appointed by President W. L. Frevert of the chamber of commerce on January 17th and consisted of Messrs. W. L. Frevert, T. S. Brandegee, D. F. Garrettson, Captain W. H. Maize, Miss K. O. Sessions, and Miss Ada Smith. Later in the year, on the return of Julius Wangenheim to San Diego, Mr. Wangenheim resumed his place on the committee by the special request of its members, and in order to have the membership more representative of different sections of the city, L. A. Wright and J. F. Schwartz were selected. A Parks Plans and Construction committee was appointed by President Frevert, this body having executive power, with George W. Marston, chairman, the other members being E. E. White, T. S. Brandegee, and Miss Sessions. The Finance committee consists of W. R. Maize, D. F. Garrettson, Julius Wangenheim and Miss Ada Smith, Mr. Garrettson being treasurer.


A contour map of the park being needed on which to base the road and planting plans, the chamber of commerce authorized Mr. Marston to petition the board of public works for the appointment of city surveyors to make a survey of the park. The board of public works, Mayor F. P. Frary, the council, and the city engineer gave friendly support to this measure, and the survey of the park was begun on January 31st. It soon became evident that the survey of the entire tract would require more time than was at first estimated, and to insure its completion at as early a date as possible, J. B. Lippincott, chief surveyor of the United States geographic survey, was asked to recommend a competent man to complete the work on the plane-table method. Mr. Lippincott’s staff was engaged to conduct the survey of about one thousand acres of the entire area at the expense of the Park Improvement committee. Mr. Hyde was assisted by two surveyors provided by the city, and completed his last map on June 11th. The contour lines were run at intervals of five feet on the west side of the park and ten feet on the east side.

As soon as sections of the contour map were finished they were sent to the Landscape Architects, Samuel Parsons & Co., New York. The map of roads and paths for the southwest section of the park, from Date to Juniper streets, west to Pound canyon, was received from the landscape architects by the committee on May 25th. Upon presentation to the Board of Public Works, the road and path plan was accepted, it being provided that the landscape architects make such changes as seemed desirable to them. A copy was filed in the office of the City Engineer. This map was publicly displayed for a week, arousing a great deal of attention and interest from citizens generally, and being highly commented upon by the local press. Other road maps followed, and on July 24th Mr. George Cooke, of the firm of Samuel Parsons & Co., arrived in San Diego to test the proposed roads on the ground and do practical improvement work. Mr. Cooke brought with him the completed plans for roadways and footpaths, these having been prepared in New York from the contour maps. He at once set to work to fit the plans to the grounds, placing the stakes in accordance with grades, points of view, etc., and making such changes as seemed desirable. The section from Date to Fir street, facing the west boundary of the park, was the first point of attack. In years past many thousand cubic yards of earth had been dug from this corner and used for filling in streets. The hillside and bottom lands were greatly scarred and defaced by unsightly cuts and excavations, a series of steep cliffs and deep holes covering seven acres or more. The top soil had been removed from a large area along the bottom of the slope, leaving a rough surface of hardpan here, as at the other points where soil had been dug and carted away. A heavy road plow with six horses was useful for removing the topsoil from but a small portion of all this corner. Drilling and blasting were necessary to break down the precipitous cliffs and to even up the rough surface generally. One hundred and fifty kegs of powder were used. The dislodged sandstone was then broken with hammers, plowed and brought into easy grades by the use of Fresno scrapers. This grading was carried on during Mr. Cooke’s stay of five weeks, and continued nearly two weeks after his return to New York, leaving the tract from Elm street southward in good park slopes.


The entrance for this part of the park, originally designed by the corner at Sixth and Date, was changed by Mr. Cooke to Eighth and Date streets on account of the better grade at that location, the plan being submitted to Mr. Parsons and approved by him. Other entrances decided upon for the south side were those at Eleventh, Twelfth, Eighteenth and Twenty-fifth streets, and at the southeast corner. On the west side entrances will be provided at Kalmia, Quince and Upas streets. The landscape architects’ plan also shows entrances at suitable points on the north and east sides of the park. The roads and paths staked on the west side of the park were cleared of native shrubs preparatory to grading next winter. The roadways proposed for the entire park were carefully staked for future convenience. During Mr. Cooke’s stay he saw the native trees at Lakeside, El Monte, and at several notable ranches in El Cajon valley. He also visited Miramar, being greatly interested in the tree experiments of that ranch, Point Loma, Coronado Botanic Garden, the court of the Hotel del Coronado, Coronado parks, La Jolla and conferred with the chief of the water department and members of the Golden Hill club. Mr. Cooke left for New York on the 27th of August, to return the first of the year to finish the grading begun this summer; plant the west side of the park; and grade the principal roads.

In March, a letter was addressed to Professor Gifford Pinchot, forester of the United States bureau of forestry, inviting him to visit San Diego while in California during the summer. Professor Pinchot responded cordially and named September as the time when he would be here. The suggestion of the Park Improvement committee was that the bureau of forestry examine the park tract with a view to establishing a forest on the east side of the park if this should prove practical. On August 17th, Ralph S. Hosmer, field assistant of the United States bureau of forestry, came to San Diego to inspect local trees and forest conditions, preparatory to Professor Pinchot’s coming.

A few weeks later, Professor Alfred James McClatchie, of the Arizona experiment station, and an authority on eucalypti, visited San Diego. While here Professor McClatchie made out a list of species of eucalyptus he deemed desirable for park use. On August 26, William Shutt, in charge of the Santa Monica forestry station, spend several days here, and gave many interesting and useful facts about the propagation and cultivation of eucalyptus trees. These notes are on file in the office.


Professor Pinchot arrived on the 3rd of September, and in the evening gave a public lecture on Forestry in the rooms of the chamber of commerce, the address being highly appreciated by a large audience. The next morning Professor Pinchot drove through the park with members of the Park Plans committee. After seeing the lands on the east side of the park, Professor Pinchot explained that the bureau of forestry is primarily engaged in preserving forest conditions on the high slopes of water sheds; that tree planting to have value as a demonstration of forestry should be carried on without irrigation; that the conditions in the park would not add to the experience and knowledge of tree growth already gained in this region; that it would establish a questionable precedent for the bureau of forestry to do any planting on lands not belonging to the United States government. Professor Pinchot said that if some friend of the park would make a gift of the trees and the cost of planting, or if the park authorities wished to establish a commercial forest for a term of fifty years or permanently, the bureau of forestry would be in a position to send an expert to make a plan, recommend species to be planted, etc. Professor Pinchot expressed himself as being much interested in the foresting of a portion of the park, and said the bureau would be glad to give every assistance in its power.

Following Professor Pinchot’s visit, J. S. Anderson, W. I. Hutchinson and H. M. Hale, of the bureau of forestry, spent ten days in the vicinity of San Diego studying the planted eucalyptus groves. The six hundred eucalyptus trees planted in Pound Canyon on the Forth of July were noted and photographed. The eucalypts on the Howard tract were examined and measured in reference to cultivation, soil and age. It was especially desired to find a plantation of eucalyptus diversicolor and eucalyptus sideroxylon in this region, and learn whether these species endure drought better than eucalyptus corynocalyx.


A proposition was made by the fraternal orders that they plant a number of trees in the park in connection with their parade on the Fourth of July. The work of clearing the ground, blasting, digging the holes, carting soil and fertilizer, irrigating and planting, was done by the park plans committee, Mr. Parsons having sent a planting sketch for the southern part of Pound canyon. The tree holes were dug a foot and a half to two feet deep and four feet across. After these were filled in, they were thoroughly wet down and allowed to settle, when six hundred trees were planted, irrigated and well mulched with street sweepings.

The trees have been watered twice since at intervals of two months. Eucalyptus cornuta and Eucalyptus corynocalyx were used, the seedlings being one to two feet high at the time of planting. Between Fourth of July and Christmas they made a growth of from two to four feet, many of the trees now being five to six feet in height, stocky and bushy. An inviting and effective grove is assured within two to three years.


The main damage done has been by gophers. In the large group of four hundred trees, nineteen have died from all causes — gophers, squirrels, rabbits, etc. In two other plantations of one hundred trees each, out of seventeen dead trees, about half have been killed by chickens scratching the loosened cultivated soil from the roots. Altogether the experiment has been highly interesting and successful.

The fraternal orders contributed one-third and the park improvement committee two-thirds of the cost.

An appropriation of $1,700 was made by the city for laying water pipes on the west side of the park from Juniper street to the south boundary. Joseph A. Flint, chief of the water department, cooperating with the park plans committee, proceeded with this work promptly and laid a system of piping from Juniper street southward to a point near Fir street. The section south of this point will be piped as soon as the permanent grade is established.


A planting list was received from the landscape architects in September, specifying the number and kinds of shrubs and trees to be secured for setting out during the winter. Many of the required plants were started from seeds last spring in the park nursery. Others were received as gifts from Golden Gate Park, the University of California, and Santa Monica Forestry Station of the university. Local nurserymen supplied a portion of the list, and such species as could not be procured otherwise were engaged from nurserymen in Santa Barbara and San Francisco. E. Benard, of Mission Valley, has had the care of the park-grown plants since last August, and has brought this stock on into good thrifty condition for planting during January and February. All the stock will be delivered on the park at such times as it is needed.

The arrangements for planting have been made with due regard for available water supply in the number and kinds of trees and shrubs to be used. Ficus citida and Ficus australia, two of the best kinds of rubber trees, are named. Among Acacias listed are the ever-blooming Acacia floribunda, a beautiful specimen of which may be seen in the home plantations of E. E. White; the low spreading Acacia latifolia, effective for grouping; Acacia Baileyana, having leaves of delicately beautiful form and glaucous color, and the bright green Acacia molissina. Arucaria Bidwilli, a handsome tree clothed to the ground, is called for, and the glossy-leaved Ceratonja Siliqua, the pods of which are said to have furnished food for John the Baptist. The tall, slender tree, Lagunaria Patersoni, and the round shrubbery, Hakea pugeniformia, have been selected.

A rare and choice tree, Lynoithamnus Floribunda, is among the desirable trees named, but stock of this species could not be procured. It grows on Santa Cruz island and on a few other Pacific Ocean islands, but did not seed this year. Only two or three of these trees are growing in this locality — one on the grounds of Mr. Anson P. Stephens of Coronado, and the other I the collection of T. S. Brandegee. Pepper trees will be used freely, and some of the best native and cultivated shrubs.


The park lands have for many years been drawn upon for fuel, and the roots of Rhus and Adenostoma have been persistently carried off on the backs of burros and by wagon loads. For the past four months Webb Tome, a deputy game warden and special policeman, has patrolled the park daily. A number of arrests have been made for digging gravel and roots, and for shooting meadow-larks, mocking birds, robins, and quail; these offenses being covered by city ordinances and state laws. The interests of the park will be protected in these particulars, and violators of the law incur the risk of arrest and penalties provided. An ordinance prohibiting pasturing is now before Council and, in regular course, will doubtless soon become a law. Herds of dairy cattle have recently been withdrawn from the park lands by their owners upon request of the Park Improvement committee, leaving only occasional picketed cows, calves and horses. The park should now be secured from being treated as a common dumping ground and place of deposit for rubbish and nuisances which are not wanted anywhere else. Tons of troublesome wire, tin, glass, etc. will have to be disposed of at considerable outlay, and almost all the money thus far expended for improvements has gone to restore the park to its original condition as well as may be.

The control of the park is vested in the bureau of public works, no park commissioners being provided for by the city charter. The board was empowered by the city council to accept the plans of the landscape architect after their presentation and approval. The board formally appointed George W. Marston, chairman of the park plans committee, as their authorized park representative. The mayor and other city officials have also cooperated in advancing the improvement of the park. T. S. Brandegee, of the parks plans committee, did a notable service in seven weeks of consecutive survey work, assisting Mr. Cooke in laying out the road system, and in mapping the notes. The Amphion Club gave a concert and operetta in the Isis theater in February, under the direction of Mrs. Loleta Levete-Rowan, for the benefit of the park fund. In April, a successful presentation of scenes from Grand Opera was conducted by Mrs. Rowan, these two musical events netting $427.25 for park improvement.


The San Diego newspapers have presented park interests with uniform kindness, and besides items of current news, there have been timely editorials relating to the principles of park development and maintenance. “Park and Cemetery” of Chicago has published articles about San Diego park, and the New York Tribune and the New York Post have had interesting descriptions by Samuel Parsons, Jr. A complete file of newspaper articles relating to San Diego park is on record in the office, together with a series of photographs illustrating different phases of the park. The University of California has requested a full set of these photographs for use in a course of lectures on landscape gardening. Photographs of the same tracts after improvements that have been made have also been requested, these being furnished with no expense to the park.


Landscape Architect Cooke arrived in San Diego December 20th to resume improvement work on the park. He brought with him a preliminary sketch for the entire tract, to be worked out as a more finished plan during his visit. Since August the street sweepings have been hauled and spread over the graded surface at Sixth and Date streets, and also some of the straw bedding from the stables of the fire department. The small west canyon, from Fir to Juniper street, has been cleaned of weeds and dumpings in preparation for planting in January.

Mr. Cooke at once organized his work and after submitting his plans to the Park Plans committee put on a force of men, horses, road plow and scrapers to finish the park slopes from Elm street southward, including the boundary roadways on Sixth and on D streets, and on seventeen feet of park land south of Date street from Sixth street eastward. This strip will be graded with reference to the street and park, and planted with low-growing shrubs.

A border of plants on one hand, and the park proper on the other , will give park character to Date street, and make a beautiful approach to the entrance at Eighth street. An easy footpath will enter at the corner of Sixth and Date streets and lead to the high ground where the brick pillars now are. A grove of pepper trees will be established on this slope during the coming month, a semi-circular plaza space being arranged for at the corner, as an approach to this foot-path entrance.

Mr. Cooke enjoyed and utilized Christmas day by driving over the park with T. S. Brandegee of the Park Plans committee. Special locations were studied with a view to deciding upon suitable and effective plantations in the final plans. Carrying out established principles of landscape architecture, Mr. Cooke determined upon schemes of planting which would intensify the effect of the depth of the canyons. Mr. Cooke and Mr. Brandegee selected a favorable location for a palm grove, this being a canyada leading from the east side of Pound canyon up to the Monterey pines on the Howard tract. This canyada is broad, forming a natural amphitheater, and has deep soil, with favorable conditions for holding moisture. Mr. Brandegee has spent much time in Mexico during botanizing trips and is familiar with the grouping habit of native groves of palms. His exceptional knowledge of plants of semi-tropical countries as well as his practical knowledge of civil engineering has made his services to the park especially valuable.


Work is now underway on the site of the proposed entrance at Eighth and Date streets, where a lawn is to be established, and on the new roadway to enter at that point. This road, extending to Sixth and Upas streets, will be graded and brought into condition for oiling as soon as possible. The offer of a citizen through the chamber of commerce to oil park roads, will apply to this road, and to a driveway extending from the south boundary of the park near Twelfth street to the northern limit in the neighborhood of the golf grounds.

During Mr. Cooke’s stay of more than two months, it is his purpose to grade the two roads indicated, to complete the grading from Ninth and Date to Sixth and Elm, and to put this area into park condition by establishing plantations as indicated on the planting plan. The entrances at Kalmia, Quince and Upas streets will also be improved and the small canyon on the west boundary below Juniper street. Golden Hill park will be developed in accordance with a plan prepared by Mr. Parsons and Mr. Cooke, thus improving this beautiful site and bringing present and future planting into harmony with the general park plan. One of the features of improvement which is being arranged for this section, is a roadway to lead down from Golden Hill park on the west, connecting with the road to Switzer canyon, and providing a way to cross into Pound canyon.


The financial side of park development is necessarily of first importance. As will be remembered, the fund which warranted this enterprise amounted to $11,000 in subscriptions by citizens. Expenditures have been made with strict regard to economy and nearly $7,000 is still available, including $3,000 of the Allyn fund and subscriptions not yet paid. The salary of the secretary, rent of office, office furnishing and part of the surveying have all been met by private contributions, made especially for these purposes. The committee sees its way clear to make the improvements now underway, and to maintain these in good order in 1904. A larger amount of water pipe is necessary than is yet provided by the city, the present planting being arranged to extend along the south side from Tenth street westward, and along the west side of the park from Date to Upas street.

Appreciation of the unique beauty and real value of the park as a civic possession has steadily grown, as shown in the marked increase of visitors, and in the subscriptions which make the improvement work possible. A greater sense of the beauty and value of the park is sure to follow its development and ornamentation. Park improvements have come to be acknowledged the county over as related to civic prosperity in a vital way. The park tract is unique in its natural features and contours, and, in addition, will have peculiar interest in the character of plants which flourish here. As a view point it is unequaled among the parks of the world in the beauty, variety and extent of the outlying landscape and the magnificent atmospheric effects. The hundreds of miles of mountain ranges and illimitable sweep of ocean, with foothills, promontories, bay and islands, are a surprise and delight in their ever varying aspects. Wisely administered with reference to expenditures, San Diego park is one of the best assets of the city, in its attraction for tourists, and its satisfaction and enjoyment for citizens.


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