Cooke Speaks of Opportunities for Park Development ~ SD Union, January 10, 1907

January 10, 1907, 5:1


Landscape Artist Speaks Well of Possibilities of City Park

Offers Exceptional Opportunities for Skillful Artistic Development

Landscape Artist Cooke in an interview yesterday gave some information of importance in regard to the park improvements that are about to be made under his supervision.

The work now under consideration is as follows: The construction of the road leading from Amherst street on the east boundary of the park into Switzer canyon connecting with the roads leading from the Golden Hill section of the park at 25th street continuing through the Switzer canyon and connecting with the road out of the park at 18th street, thence leading up on the southern side of the Children’s Home, connecting with the boulevard running to University Heights, there connecting with the road leading into Pound canyon and crossing the canyon leading up and connecting with the present western boulevard. This will provide a connection from Amherst street to the western boundary, giving entire circuit to the golf grounds, Upas street and University Heights. This will give the residents of the Golden Hill section the entire detour of the southern and western and northern boundary of the park. This work will under ordinary circumstances be completed in about six weeks.

The council have passed upon the issue of over $70,000 for the boulevard improvements and the park board have applied for $10,000 of this amount for the construction of a boulevard running from the

junction of Switzer and Power [sic] house canyon across the park, and, if this amount is made available, the board will be enable to proceed with this work immediately. The park commissioners have also under consideration the construction of a road leading out from the northeastern boundary of the park to a point at 36th street which is now being graded, thence to El Cajon avenue and in all probability this will form part of a continuation of boulevards leading through Old Town and out to Point Loma.

Speaking of the possibilities of the San Diego park, Mr. Cooke says that the formation and surroundings are similar in many respects to the Elysian park in Los Angeles, but the latter park is inferior in many respects to San Diego’s as it does not contain the gulches and pretty ravines to be found in the San Diego park.

Regarding the soil, Mr. Cooke says that the gullies are very rich as they are made up of the decomposed matter washed down the sides of the hills. The hilltops and sides are of course poorer but still with the addition of plenty of fertilizer they would produce all that would be required of them.

Blasting will have to be done on the higher ground wherever trees are planted but there is no difficulty about this as the ground breaks up freely. He was decidedly of the opinion that nothing came up to the street sweepings for fertilizing purposes for the park; he had strongly advised the use of street sweepings some three and a half years ago, and his advice had been acted upon to some extent, but owing to lack of funds the board were compelled to discontinue this useful work, but he hoped that another start would be made in this direction.

Regarding the ornamental trees, Mr. Cooke believes that the board would do well to stick to the Eucalyptus family as they are the best suited for this climate and soil. From his experience he would say that the varieties indigenous to the highland district of Australia would do better here than any other kind. The swampy varieties of the gum tree were no good here, the most useless of the species being the Eucalyptus robusta.


Among the best of the Eucalyptus family were the Sugar Gum, the Radus, the Polyothema and the Rostrada and Citrador. The Blue Gum would grow 12 feet and over in a single year, he knew of trees 25 feet high after two years growth.

The Citrador was a beautiful feathery tree and it would do well anywhere. It was a very hard variety and as well as being particularly ornamental it was adapted for commercial purposes.

Speaking of material for the park roads, Mr. Cooke thought that the Cuyamaca decomposed granite would be used. This material always formed into a hard surface; and he always advocated hard surface roads. These roads take the oil better than the soft surface roads.

Mr. Cooke is of the opinion that the San Diego park when properly improved will not be beaten for beauty and surroundings by any park in California. Eastern cities in developing and beautifying their parks have in many cases appropriated $100,000 on properties containing as little as 8 acres and these cities cannot hope to get the same effects and beauty as obtained today in Mulvey canyon — the smallest in San Diego park.

Return to Samuel Parsons and Balboa Park.