Friday, July 25, 2008

It isn't even past

Okay, so you may recall our frustratingly arduous pursuit of a copy of the 1988 Overton Park Master Plan. And you may recall that we finally got a lovely fat packet o' info from Ritchie Smith Associates (thanks, Ritchie!) that included the elusive Overton Park Master Plan and its foldout map.

That packet also included a 75-page report titled "Overton Park: The Evolution of a Park Space" that was prepared in 1987 by John Linn Hopkins as background history for the 1988 Overton Park Master Plan.

Here's the table of contents:

Here's a quote from the introduction:

In the case of Overton Park, the demands upon the available park space may be quickly reaching a point where, without very careful planning and courageous administration, the park will soon face its breaking point. Every bit of the park that is removed from greenspace for use of the expansion of a cultural institution or for the creation of parking presses the park closer and closer to this point.

And a quote (p. 37) from the designer of Overton Park:
In Overton Park you have saved the other chief characteristic of this region by preserving in the forest conditions the virgin forest upon that property. Nowhere in the United States, except in the Pacific Northwest, will you find tree growth as luxuriant as in the Western Tennessee and Eastern Arkansas forests, and in the two hundred acres of virgin forest in Overton Park you have a property which, as a heritage to the public for the enjoyment of nature, equals in value the cost of the entire park system to the present time. -George E. Kessler, 1911

You can download the whole thing as a 6MB PDF and read it for yourself. If you're inspired to do that, please share your thoughts.

We can't chart our way forward if we don't know where we've already been.


Bernhard Meck said...

It humbles me to see what Kessler and Overton had in mind for the forest and Memphis. They were so far ahead of their time! And here the Memphis Zoo get's blessed with a director who is a throw-back to the early days - when a tree was worth about as much as it would put off heat in the winter in your cabin stove! Thanks New York for Mr.Brady, who took away a good slice of our heritage in a New York minute! Hey New York - how about you take him back??? PLEASE!!!!