San Diego Park System ~ SD Union, Editorial July 6, 1910

JULY 6, 1910



The comprehensive plans for San Diego’s parks prepared by Landscape Architect Parsons and embodied in his letter to the park commissioners, deserve the careful consideration of all residents of this city. In these parks and especially in the great City park, San Diego has today an undeveloped asset which by wise and liberal fostering will in time have a value so great as to be almost beyond present conception. The City park alone, if properly developed, will be an attraction that will make San Diego famous among cities where artistic parks are a notable feature. And it is not exaggeration to say that no locality has a park that is capable of being made so uniquely beautiful as the 1400 acres included in the City park of San Diego.

At first thought the task of transforming that vast tract — seamed with canyons, topographically irregular and in places almost forbidding in appearance — into a park that shall delight the eye with charming views and varied foliage, would seem to be one that must be performed, if performed at all, against the opposition of nature herself. But the few earnest men and women who have interested themselves in, and worked for, the more attractive San Diego, recognized the fact that in those seeming obstacles to success in the City park lay the greatest possibilities of artistic beauty. Their view is now fully confirmed by one of the highest authorities in the United States. He refers to the “wonderful scenic advantages” of San Diego’s parks, and shows in detail how those advantages may be turned to the best account. For example, here is suggestion for dealing with the canyons in the City park:

“There is one good, broad scheme of treatment which can always safely be adhered to in the midst of many modifications of the original plan, and that is to plant the ridges and promontories with as high-growing suitable trees as can be found, and the low sides of the gulches or canyons with comparatively low shrubbery or busy trees. It is well to keep all trees some distance from the bottom of the canyon, occupying its lowest parts with vines or very low shrubbery, so as to secure as deep an effect as possible. This effect of deepness will also be increased by leading the tall pines and eucalyptus over the edge of the slope, straggling just a little downwards. All this makes for picturesqueness and striking park scenery. For instance, all the high places of the San Diego City park should be planted with eucalyptus, pepper trees, acacias and Casauarinas.”

The expert then makes detailed suggestions for the treatment of the entire park, with trees, shrubbery, roads, etc. His comprehensive plan, if carried out, would give to San Diego a park that would be the envy of almost every city in the United States. Incidentally, he speaks with warm approval of the work that has already been accomplished. This part in his letter should not be overlooked. There is so much to be done before the City park can be made the attraction that it should be, that not everybody is aware how much has already been done and done well.

The expert’s letter is, of course, mainly for the guidance of the park commission. It should be read and reread, however, by every resident of San Diego who would see the parks, one of San Diego’s greatest assets, brought to a high state of development. Park improvement is among the most important of the undertakings now before the city. It should have the cordial cooperation of all.

Return to Samuel Parsons and Balboa Park.