Page:Olmsted report on Portland, Oregon parks, 1903.djvu/18

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poses. Unfortunately the number of men who know how to make and maintain beautiful parks is very small. Park commissioners are therefore apt to employ men who seem to know something of at least the practical parts of the work, and they often flounder around in all the vitally important matters of design, using their own taste and knowledge as far as they have time and inclination to do so and leaving the rest to their practical men. Even those park commissioners who know and appreciate beautiful landscape when they see it are rarely able to select and adapt a particular type of landscape to the particular land with which they are dealing. Perhaps they can appreciate good acting or good music, but they would be unable to write the play or compose the music. Yet they will order a wood cleaned of underbrush, feel gratified by the efforts of the gardener in the way of so-called rock work, rustic bridges, formal flower beds in informal surroundings, and by walks leading hither and yon without any purpose that one can discover, and by all the injuries which even good gardeners (because they are mostly mechanics and not artists) will inflict on a park landscape already naturally beautiful or which needs only native trees and wild bushes in proper places to make it so. Many of the civil engineers employed on park work do more even to injure naturally beautiful scenery, because their operations in grading and road building and bridges are apt to be larger, and more conspicuous, and so expensive that once done, it is practically impossible to change them and because most of their training has been in smashing beautiful landscape with railroads, streets, dams and bridges and other constructions, all of which might at the same, or at moderate additional coat, be made beautiful in form and location, even it without ornament. But the civil engineer who should be caught by his employers spending money for beauty, as, for instance, by curving a road around a hill instead of cutting through it or by having vines and wild Bowers planted on rough railroad slopes, would be reprimanded if not discharged. Civil engineers are not to be blamed for this. Their education and experience has compelled them to it. Nor are gardeners to be blamed for being mechanics instead of artists. If a park commission cannot find artistic gardeners and artistic civil engineers, the next best thing is to "catch them young"—those who have innate artistlc feeling—and help them to become such.

18—Park Systems Should Be Managed Independently of City Governments.

It has been demonstrated by experience in many cities that the park system more than any other of the undertakings of a city should be managed independently of the common council or legislative body of the city government.