great public grounds

“Portrait of Frederick Law Olmsted”
by John Singer Sargent

The enjoyment of the choicest natural scenes in the country and the means of recreation connected with them is thus a monopoly, in a very peculiar manner, of a very few, very rich people. The great mass of society, including those to whom it would be of the greatest benefit, is excluded from it. In the nature of the case private parks can never be used by the mass of the people in any country nor by any considerable number even of the rich, except by the favor of a few, and in dependence on them.Thus without means are taken by government to withhold them from the grasp of individuals, all places favorable in scenery to the recreation of the mind and body will be closed against the great body of the people. For the same reason that the water of rivers should be guarded against private appropriation and the use of it for the purpose of navigation and otherwise protected against obstruction, portions of natural scenery may therefore properly be guarded and cared for by government. To simply reserve them from monopoly by individuals, however, it will be obvious, is not all that is necessary. It is necessary that they should be laid open to the use of the body of the people.The establishment by government of great public grounds for the free enjoyment of the people under certain circumstances, is thus justified and enforced as a political duty.
~ Frederick Law Olmsted
(America’s National Park System: The Critical Documents)

11 thoughts on “great public grounds”

    1. I like the idea that the “choicest natural scenes” should be kept from private ownership and preserved for ordinary citizens.

    1. Indeed! Thank goodness we have so many of them. Some of the smaller and less well known ones are hidden gems.

  1. Most of the school children who come on the [school trip] hikes I lead in the State Parks have never hiked before, or climbed a tree, or noticed the stars. And most probably wont hike again.

    1. So many children have what some have called “nature deficit disorder” through no fault of their own. How wonderful of you, Rosie, to help give children a little taste of the great outdoors! So sad that it might be their only chance. But you never know what good may come of the effort somewhere down the line.

        1. I haven’t read it yet, but it is on my “to read” list. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. I like the painting of the woman with the geraniums … There is something unsentimental about her, yet appreciative … Fits the Potter quote well.

      1. That’s okay, Jane. Stuff like that happens to me all the time. 🙂 This summer I’m enjoying a large pot of red and pink geraniums on my balcony. It almost looks like the woman is turning the pot around so the fading sunlight will reach another side of the plant…

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