Page:Olmsted report on Portland, Oregon parks, 1903.djvu/3

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15
REPORT OF THE PARK BOARD

may even be so extremely artificial as to be without trees, flowers or grass. That some actually are so and yet command the admiration of people of taste is an indication of their essential qualities and fundamental differences from parks proper. Few cities have anywhere near as many ornamental squares as they should. It ls particularly desirable that a city should have several of its principal public buildings facing upon a large public square, as the new custom house in New York faces upon the Bowling Green, not occupying it as the postoffice and municipal buildings occupy the City Hall Park.

Play grounds are primarily selected and improved for particular forms of recreation and only such beauty and ornamentation is allowable as will not unduly interfere with their usefulness for their intended purpose. As the noise which those who use them indulge in makes them somewhat objectionable to neighbors it is often best to combine them with public squares in such a way as to partially separate and screen their strictly utilitarian parts from adjoining streets and buildings, as in the case of Charlesbank in Boston, or to locate them in parks proper in such a way as to avoid undue injury to the main purposes of the park as in the case of Jackson Park, Chicago.

Urban or neighborhood parks include public pleasure grounds of a variety of sizes and styles. They may be formal in general design and informal in some details like the public park at Dijon, in France, or they may be as informal as the designer can make them, like Morningside Park, in New York, or, as is generally the case, they may be informal in general design but more or less filled with formal and artificial details like the Public Garden in Boston. Neighborhood parks are large enough to contain naturalistic scenery but not large enough to enable the visitor to enjoy fully the feeling of escape from city sights and sounds and of seclusion which it is the function of the large rural or suburban parks to encourage. Nevertheless the local park is the more useful to the daily life of the citizens since its restricted size and cost enable the city to distribute them in various localities in close proximity to densely populated sections or where they can soon become surrounded by a large population. To make them as attractive and useful as possible it is often best to abandon the attempt to secure simple broad landscape effects and to design them with as many interesting features and useful subdivisions as practicable somewhat as a recreation building is subdivided. It may not be possible to wholly screen out surrounding streets and houses, yet it will usually make them more enjoyable for visitors to do so to some extent. In short, local parks are recreation grounds in which beauty of vegetation and often of small scale naturalistic scenery is the first consideration, but which, nevertheless, admits of a large amount of the formal and semi-