Marston Tells More of Trip to NY and Parsons ~ SD Union, November 25, 1902

November 25, 1902, 4:2


Mr. Marston Tells More of the Trip He Made to New York and of Man He Secured to Make the Plans

When President Marston of the railroad committee had completed his report on the railroad survey for the other directors yesterday, he turned his attention to the park improvement committee. What he did is contained in the following report, which he made public yesterday, though he had spoken briefly on the subject on the previous evening when considering railroad matters.

“The park committee requested me to engage a landscape architect to prepare a comprehensive plan for our city park. I secured the services of Samuel Parsons & Co., of New York City. The career and professional standing of Mr. Samuel Parsons, Jr., the senior member of the firm, have been so recently presented by the San Diego press that I have not much to add. I believe that he will win the confidence of our citizens as soon as he arrives and has taken hold of the work. He is conspicuously a man of common sense, and no one need fear that he will impose upon us any “artistic” design that will be unsuitable to California conditions. Mr. Parsons is a warm advocate of the natural method of developing park grounds, rather than the formal treatment. No Californian can be more pronounced than he for the use of native growths. He desires the cooperation of our local botanists and gardeners and will welcome their suggestions. In our conversations he quickly touched upon the chief difficulty in building parks here, the scarcity of water, and he thoroughly understands that an eastern park is not the model for one in an arid country.

“Mr. Parsons has a remarkable position in New York City. He is practically the referee in all questions concerning changes and improvements of the one hundred parks, large and small, in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Bronx. Not a tree can be removed nor a statue placed without his approval. To show the range of his work — his firm, besides overseeing the public grounds of New York, is now building a playground for children in the most densely populated district in New York, is laying out very extensive park places for J. B. Haggin in Kentucky, has charge of many private grounds, and is beginning the plans for one of the largest and finest cemeteries in New York. No ordinary man could manage even the business affairs of such wide-reaching and important operations. Mr. Parsons is a business man, artist and engineer — a rare combination.

“Mr. Parsons will visit San Diego in December to make a personal examination of the park territory and to form the general design. He intends to inspect Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, and the Los Angeles parks before coming here, and will avail himself of all possible help while in San Diego. He does not expect to have the plan prepared before next June. At that time his partner, Mr. George Cooke, will come to San Diego to test the place by careful study on the ground. After further study and elaboration the complete plan will be ready by January 1st, 1904.

“While Mr. Parsons is here, it is expected that the main driveway will be planned, the general features outlined, and the southwest corner sufficiently designed to enable the park committee to commence improvements at once. But not haste for immediate effects should interfere with a careful beginning in complete harmony with the full landscape design.

“I have read with great interest the articles in the newspapers on the park improvement proposition, particularly Mrs. Coulston’s able letters. Mrs. Coulston has a splendid conception of the “City Beautiful” and has been setting before us most clearly and attractively not only a true ideal, but many practical ways of working towards it.

“It is also gratifying to see the enthusiastic, intelligent interest of our people for the beautifying of the city. This impulse should be directed not merely to parks, but to streets, country roads, gardens, front and back yards, vacant lots and all outdoors. My personal efforts have been chiefly for the public park because it seems to be impossible for our city government, with all other pressing demands, to undertake the initiative. But the primary thing in city betterment is good roads. It will be economically good sense and a step towards public beauty to issue bonds in a liberal sum to make our streets and outlying roads pleasant walking and driving places. Any San Diegan who travels at all comes back home with a feeling of shame on account of our poor roads.”

Return to Samuel Parsons and Balboa Park.