Category Archives: Parks in the News

The New National Park No One Is Talking About & More!

 

There are lots more other changes to the National Park System included in the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which has now been officially signed into law.

Among the many remaining changes that jump out to me is that Death Valley National Park is expanded by 35,292 acres, further expanding the largest national park in the contiguous 48 states.  Although this is a small addition to Death Valley’s existing 3.4 million acres, the expansion is larger than seven other national parks.  If this were a stand-alone addition to the National Park System, we might well be celebrating the addition of a 62nd national park.  In fact,  the additional lands are about the size of Bryce Canyon National Park’s 35, 835 acres.  So in some ways, this addition to Death Valley National Park is the new national park that no one is talking about.  If land of this size had been set aside as a new national park with a new name, it would certainly be headline news.  As it is, its a bit of a footnote, but is still worth celebrating.

A bit over 6,000 acres of this addition come from adding an area known as “the Crater” to the Park.  If you look closely at a map of Death Valley National Park, The Crater appears as a “doughnut hole” of Bureau of Land Management Land in the northeast corner of the Park.  That hole will now be filled in. The remaining 29,000 acres come from expanding the Park southwards to include the land between the current boundaries and the Fort Irwin National Training Center operated by the U.S. military.

Fort Moultrie, outside of Charleston South Carolina, tells a nearly complete history of US harbor defenses, and is now formally included in the newly-renamed Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park. Photo from 2011.

Although the expansion of Death Valley is far and away the largest expansion of the National Park System under the Dingell Act, there are a number of other changes to existing units that should not be overlooked:

  • Acadia National Park benefits by Congress confirming the 2015 addition of land on the Schoodic Peninsula to the Park;
  • Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado, which preserves absolutely spectacular 35 million year old fossils, gets a small expansion from 6,000 acres to 6,300 acres
  • Fort Frederica National Monument in Georgia, where the British solidified their hold on their southern colonies, is expanded by 22%, with the addition of 55 additional acres;
  • Fort Scott National Historic Site in Kansas, which preserves a Fort that played an important role in the “Bleeding Kansas” conflicts of the antebellum years before the Civil War gets a small boundary expansion;
  • Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park not only gets a new name, but gets formal recognition of the inclusion of Fort Moultrie and the Charleston Lifesaving Station within the boundaries of the park after 60 years of being unofficially included in the park;
  • Harry S Truman National Historic Site in Independence, Missouri gets authorized to acquire additional land in Independence for a new or expanded visitor center;
  • Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park, New York gets expanded by approximately 10% as 89 additional acres are added along the scenic Hudson River;
  • Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in Georgia, the site of an important battle on General Sherman’s “March to the Sea” during the Civil War, gets a small addition of 8 acres around the  Wallis House and Hairston Hill;
  • Joshua Tree National Park  gets a modest expansion of 4,518 acres, plus the authority to establish a new visitor center in the unincorporated town of Joshua Tree, California;
  • Mojave National Preserve in California gets a small expansion of 25 additional acres;
  • A small sub-unit of National Capital Parks in Washington, DC containing a statue of Irish independence hero Robert Emmert gets redesignated as Robert Emmert Park;
  • Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park in Georgia, in addition to getting a new name, is tripled in size from its present 702 acres to some 2,100 acres;
  • Reconstruction Era National Historical Park gets a new name, and also the authority to acquire additional properties beyond the original monument designation;
  • Shiloh National Military Park, site of the overall bloodiest battle in the Civil War, is expanded by adding three new areas:
    • the Davis Bridge Battlefield in Tennessee, which is currently already a Parks Passport cancellation location by virtue of being part of a shared National Historic Landmark designation with the national military park itself,
    • additional acres around the Fallen Timbers Battlefield site in Tennessee, and
    • the Russel House Battlefield site on the Tennessee-Mississippi border;
  • Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota benefits by allowing the Department of the Interior to transfer 49 acres within the current Park boundaries that are currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management to National Park Service management, and also authorizes the possibility of up to several dozen additional acres to be donated to the National Park Service by the State of Minnesota;
Fort Kaskaskia State Historic Site in Illinois, where Meriwether Lewis and William Clark sought recruits for the Corps of Discovery in November 1803 will now benefit from the recognition of the eastward extension of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Photo from 2009.

Beyond the additions to the National Park System, the Dingell Act will also make a major change to the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, extending it from its current starting point near St. Louis, Missouri eastward to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  In 2004, during the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial, Congress directed the National Park Service to conduct a “Special Resource Study” on extending the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail eastward to include routes related to activities occurring both before and after the main 1804-1806 expedition already commemorated by the existing Trail.  The National Park Service looked at some 25 different route segments as part of its study, eventually determining that only the routes from Pittsburgh to St. Louis along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers met the criteria for historical significance to be added to the National Historic Trails System.

Interestingly, in researching this post, I discovered that the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail had already certified 12 of these “Eastern Legacy” sites as Trail locations, despite not being located along the then-authorized trail route.  The extension of the Lewis & Clark Trail to Pittsburgh will incorporate about half of these sites, but five certified sites will remain outside of the new, extended National Historic Trail:

  • Thomas Jefferson’s plantation, Monticello, in Virginia (currently a Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area cancellation location) where Meriwether Lewis met with Thomas Jefferson to plan the Corps of Discovery expedition;
  • Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia where Lewis procured armaments for the expedition and tested plans for a collapsable boat (which ultimately failed);
  • the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where Lewis received training in the natural sciences from Benjamin Rush, and other Society Members, in preparation for the expedition;
  • the College of Physicians in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where Meriwether Lewis received Medical Training from Benjamin Rush and others; and finally,
  • the Lewis and Clark Herbarium at the Academy of Natural Resources where most of the plant specimens collected by the Corps of Discovery continue to be housed today.
Parker’s Crossroads Battlefield in Tennessee Is the Newest Affiliated Area of the National Park System. Photo from 2018, courtesy Brian Bailey.

The Dingell Act will also be adding one new Affiliated Area to the National Park System.  The Parker’s Crossroads Battlefield in Tennessee, which already has a passport cancellation and an Eastern National-operated bookstore gets elevated to recognition as an Affiliated Area of the National Park System.  The 368 acre battlefield is managed by the non-profit American Battlefield Trust, and preserves the site of a Civil War engagement that took place on New Year’s Eve, approximately three and a half months prior to the Battle of Shiloh.

The President James K. Polk Home in Columbia, Tennessee is one of several areas that will now be studied for potential inclusion in the National Park System. Photo from 2010 by Polk Association Photographer. [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)]
Finally, the Dingell Act authorizes a number of special resource studies for future additions to the National Park System.  A special resource study is where the National Park Service formally studies and gathers public input on the national significance, suitability, and feasibility of a proposed addition to the National Park System.  As mentioned earlier, it can be a long time between the authorization of a special resource study and a change to the National Park System – 15 years in the case of the eastward extension of the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail.  Here are the studies authorized by the Dingell Act:

  • the President James K. Polk Home in Columbia, Tennessee, which would be the first National Park System Unit other than Gateway Arch National Park interpreting the Presidency of James K. Polk;
  • the Thurgood Marshall School in Baltimore, Maryland, better-known as Public School 103, which the first African-American Supreme Court Justice attended as a youth;
  • President Street Station, which played a role in the Underground railroad,  Baltimore’s Civil War riots, the growth of the railroad industry, and early 20th century immigration (and which also currently has an Eastern National Bookstore and its own Parks Passport cancellation already);
  • Camp Amache Internment Camp in Granada, Colorado, which would be the fourth Japanese internment camp added to the National Park System;
  • the  George W. Bush childhood home in Midland Texas;
  • the Ocmulgee River Corridor in Macon, Georgia; and
  • the route of the explorer Zebulon Montgomery Pike (of Pike’s Peak fame) for consideration as a national historic trail.

These special resource studies will join a slew of studies already underway by the National Park Service, including a study of Fort Ontario in Oswego, New York that was authorized by a piece of stand-alone legislation in October 2018.

The authorizations of  special resource studies for the President Street Station and for Thurgood Marshall’s Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland are particularly notable because Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland first introduced legislation requesting this study in October of 2011.  It took more than 7 years to get the legislation enacted, just for a study!   The proposal for the study of a Pike National Historic Trail goes all the way back to 2010!  That really illustrates how much effort goes into establishing just one new unit of the National Park System – even a small one!  Moreover, many of these special resource studies will of course conclude that the proposed addition is either not suitable, not feasible, or even not nationally significant and recommend against inclusion in the National Park System.  Although Congress can always make its own decision, an unfavorable recommendation in the special resource study often effectively ends efforts to designate a particular area a national park.

This article is Part III of a three-part series on changes to the National Park System in early 2019.  Check out Part I and Part II.

Update: This post was updated after publication to make it clearer that the “new” national park will still be known as Death Valley National Park. 

Final Shot: A new dawn rising on Death Valley National Park. Photo from 2009.

 

Share this Parkasaurus post: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmail
Follow Parkasaurus: Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

A New National Commemorative Site – Wait, What’s a National Commemorative Site Anyways?

The Quindaro archeological site is about the become the third National Commemorative Site. Photo from 2018 by America Beautiful Patton [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
Since writing my first post on all the coming changes to the National Park System, the bill formerly known as the Natural Resources Management Act has been given a new name!   After being passed by the Senate, the House proposed (and the Senate accepted) changing the name of this bill to the John Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act.  John Dingell, Jr. passed away earlier this year on February 7th.  He is notable as the longest-serving member of the US House of Representatives ever, a 59 year tenure that included 14 years as the top ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

By any other name, however, this bill contains a unique provision with the addition of the Quindaro Town Site in Kansas as third national commemorative site that will operate in partnership with the National Park Service.   What is a national commemorative site, you may ask?   Well,  Congress has actually never answered that question definitively by defining the term national commemorative site in law.  Indeed, until just one year ago, there was only a single national commemorative site in the nation.  With the creation of the third  national commemorative site, however, we can start to draw some conclusions.

national commemorative site appears to be an honorary designation that recognizes the historical significance of a place,  without elevating it to the status of a full-fledged unit of the National Park System.  In particular, this means that there is no National Park Service management of a national commemorative site, and only minimal federal funding for a national commemorative site, although the National Park Service does become authorized to enter into cooperative agreements with local authorities to improve interpretation at these sites.

A good way to think about these national commemorative sites is to look at where they logically fit into the heirarchy of historic designations in the United States:

  • The National Register of Historic Places was established in 1966 and currently includes more than 90,000 listings, making it the broadest designation.  Listing on the National R
  • national historic landmark must meet a higher standard of national significance than a listing on the National Register of Historic Places.   National historic landmarks have been designated since 1935, and there are currently more than 2,500 such landmarks.   All national historic landmarks are automatically listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • National historic sites all must meet the criteria for being a National historic landmark, and most must also meet the National Park Service’s criteria for administration as a unit of the National Park System.  Upon passage of the Dingell Act, there will be 76 national historic sites* in the National Park System, 54 national historic parks in the National Park System, another 9 National Historic States that are affiliated areas of the National Park System, and 1 national historic site operated by the National Forest Service.

The national commemorative site designation seems to fit right between national historic landmark and national historic site in terms of level of recognition and Federal involvement.  It definitely provides a bit more recognition and Federal involvement than designation as a national historic landmark.  However, the relative obscurity of the national commemorative site designation and the very minimal Federal involvement places it well below the designation of a national historic site. 

The first national commemorative site was designated in 1998.   The Charleston Public School Complex in Charleston, AR received this unique designation in recognition of the fact that it was the first school system in the South to fully desegregate following the historic Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision in 1954.  Most notably, the process of desegregation at Charleston occurred entirely peacefully – which is surely as worthy of recognition as the places where violence occurred.

This designation remained one-of-a-kind for nearly 20 years until Congress revived it again by designating the Landmark for Peace Memorial in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana as the Kennedy-King National Commemorative Site in April 2018.  The Memorial is close by the site where then-Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy was informed that Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated earlier that day, and proceeded to deliver extemporaneous remarks on racial reconciliation – rather than his planned stump speech.   That speech is credited with playing a role in Indianapolis not seeing any race riots that evening, unlike so many other US cities.  Its interesting that once again, the national commemorative site was used almost for what didn’t happen, or at the very least, what happened peacefully.

Once the Dingell Act is signed into law, the Quindaro Townsite archeological site in Kansas City, Kansas will become the third national commemorative site.  Quindaro was a town founded by abolitionists in 1856 at the height of the “Bleeding Kansas” years.  They were seeking to ensure that Kansas would eventually be admitted to the Union as a “Free State” where slavery was prohibited.  The town became a stop on the Underground Railroad, and also played an important role in Reconstruction by setting up schools and other educational opportunities for freed slaves.   The location of the townsite was eventually lost to history before being rediscovered in the 1980’s.  This national recognition is the latest in a series of attempts to draw attention to the story of Quindaro and the role that it played in both the Underground Railroad and in Reconstruction.  This post by Kansas Travel blogger Keith Stokes has detailed information on how to visit the Quindaro Townsite.

This statue of controversial abolitionist John Brown was erected in 1911 at the site of Western University, which was founded by the residents of Quindaro. Photo from 2007 by Reddi [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]
* – For simplicity, I included two sites with slightly different designations in these totals: (1) St Croix International Historic Site, an early French settlement on the border of Maine and New Brunswick; and (2) Aleutian World War II National Historic Area, an affiliated area of the National Park System on the island of Amaknak in Alaska.

 For the curious, Grey Towers National Historic Site in Pennsylvania is the former home of Gifford Pinchot, founder of the US Forest Service, and remains a US Forest Service site rather than a National Park Service site. 

This article is Part II of a three-part series on all the changes occurring to the National Park System in early 2019.  Click here to read Part I.

 

Share this Parkasaurus post: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmail
Follow Parkasaurus: Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

Breaking Down the Recent and Coming Changes to the National Park System

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore has officially become the 61st (or 62nd, depending on how you count) unit of the National Park System with a “national park” designation. Photo Credit: Flickr user: Paul J Everett in 2008 https://www.flickr.com/people/paul_everett82/ [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]
Calendar year 2018 ended on a low note for the National Park System in the midst of a partial Federal government shutdown.   With the budget negotiations to keep the Federal government open consuming almost all of Congress’ attention in November, December, and January, that left a lot of unfinished business that Congress was unable to get to before their 115th Session ended in early January.   Fortunately, the newly elected Congress began the 116th Session by immediately taking up many of the pending public lands provisions that had received Committee hearings and debates over the previous two years in the 115th Session and sent many of them to the President’s desk for signature.   Here’s a recap of what you need to know:

I’ll begin with the news that Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is now Indiana Dunes National Park.  On Friday February 15, the President signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019.  This is the law the prevented another government shutdown from beginning on February 16 by providing budget authority to the National Park Service (and all other Federal agencies that weren’t previously funded) through September 30, 2019.  Normally, any law with the words “Appropriations Act” in the title is supposed to be limited to just providing funding – and is not supposed to be making other changes to permanent law.   However, advocates for redesignating Indiana Dunes were so persistent that they managed to get their provision tucked into this must-pass legislation keeping the government open so as to ensure that it was enacted into law.  Thus, congratulations to Indiana Dunes on being redesignated as the 61st “national park” of the United States (or alternatively, the 62nd depending if you count “Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts” as a “national park.”)

The USS Arizona Memorial and the other Pearl Harbor Sites in World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument are being redesignated as the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. Photo Credit: Stan Shebs in 2002 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
Most other proposed bills relating to the National Park System aren’t so lucky to be tucked into must-pass legislation.  Instead, it has now become common practice that whenever a two-year session of Congress begins wrapping up, a giant “omnibus” piece of legislation is crafted to bring together a large number of public lands provisions that had been debated in Committee over the previous two years.  The idea behind the “omnibus” is to include something for almost everyone in Congress, and thus ensure its passage.   So it was little surprise when the “omnibus” public lands bill for the 115th Congress (2017-2018), the Natural Resources Management Act, passed the Senate earlier this week by a vote of 92-8.   The House of Representatives is almost certain to pass this legislation sometime next week.  Its possible that they may even pass it without amendment, which would send the legislation directly to President Trump for his signature to be enacted into law.

Presuming that happens,  here is what you need to know about how the Natural Resources Management Act will impact the National Park System.

First up, the existing World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is being broken up, creating a new addition to the National Park System.   The “Valor” National Monument was always an odd creation from the moment that President George W. Bush created it in 2008 by combining the existing then-designated USS Arizona National Memorial with several other sites around Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the site of the Tule Lake Internment Camp in California, and three World War II sites in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska.   The USS Arizona Memorial and the other sites around Pearl Harbor are redesignated as the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.   The Tule Lake Unit of the Monument is redesignated as the Tule Lake National Monument, and this will effectively become the 419th Unit of the National Park System upon passage of the legislation (unless something very surprising happens between now and then).  The Alaskan areas of the monument are redesignated as Aleutian Islands World War II National Monument, and they will continue to be managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and so will not be part of the National Park System.

The Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home in Jackson, Mississippi could soon become the newest addition to the National Park System. Photo Credit: Jud McCranie in 2018 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
Next, the bill authorizes the establishment of two new units of the National Park System:

  • Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument in Mississippi
  • Mill Springs Battlefield National Monument in Kentucky

Medgar and Myrlie Evers were famed civil rights activists, and this national monument will protect the home where they lived in Jackson, Mississippi from 1956 up until Medgar’s asssasination in 1963.  Mill Springs Battlefield is located near the town of Nancy in south-central Kentucky.  In January 1862, it was the site of the first significant Union victory during the Civil War.

Neither site will become the 420th unit of the National Park System just yet.  Instead, both sites will become full-fledged national parks upon the acquisition of land for the sites by the National Park Service.  In that sense, they join a pool of candidates that for that distinction that includes:

  • Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park – an early French settlement in Missouri that was first authorized last year (and whose authorized boundaries will be modified in this legislation in order to help move the process along);
  • Coltsville National Historical Park – the 19th-century industrial village centered on arms-making in Hartford, Connecticut that was authorized back in 2014;
  • the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial – first authorized in 1999, the memorial commission is currently hoping to complete construction on a site near the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC by May 8, 2020;
  • the Adams Memorial – first authorized in 2001 at the height of the popularity of David McCullough’s Pulitzer-Prize winning biography of family patriarch John Adams, the effort to memorialize the family has struggled with fundraising, but this legislation extends the authorization for the memorial until 2025 and establishes a Commission to try and jump-start these efforts;
  • Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home National Historic Site – first authorized in 2002, the National Park Service and the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home Preservation Foundation were not able to agree on a selling price for the site in Dixon, Illinois, and so land acquisition won’t happen until that changes.

So, if you’re keeping track at home, it is likely that the 420th unit of the National Park System will be one of Mill Springs Battlefield National Monument, Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument, Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park, or Coltsville National Historical Park – but there is always the possibility that the President could declare a brand-new national monument under the Antiquities Act even before land acquisition for any one of those authorized (or soon-to-be authorized) parks happens.

Ocmulgee National Monument will soon be getting the much-more descriptive name of Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park. Photo from 2015.

The Natural Resources Management Act,once enacted will also make a large number of name changes to the National Park System:

  • Camp Nelson National Monument in central Kentucky, designated just a couple months ago to preserve a training ground for African-American Union soldiers during the Civil War gets renamed as Camp Nelson Heritage National Monument;
  • Fort Sumter National Monument, where the Civil War began in Charleston, South Carolina, gets renamed as Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park;
  • Golden Spike National Historic Site in northern Utah, where the first trans-continental railroad was completed on May 10, 1869 gets renamed Golden Spike National Historical Park, just in time for their 150th Anniversary;
  • Honouliuli National Monument, the Japanese prisoner of war camp that was also used for internement of Japanese-American civilians on Oahu, in Hawaii, gets renamed Honouliuli National Historic Site;
  • Ocmulgee National Monument, which preserves paleo-Indian archeological sites that are up to 17,000 years old, pre-Columbian American Indian mounds that are about 1,000 years old, and the historic culture of the Creek Nation in the city of Macon in central Georgia gets renamed as Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park;
  • Reconstruction Era National Monument in and around Beaufort, South Carolina, where the process of building a new life for recently-emancipated African-Americans began, gets renamed Reconstruction Era National Historical Park;
  • Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, the estate of the famed sculptor Agustus Saint-Gaudens in central New Hampshire gets renamed as Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park.

All of those name changes would take place immediately upon enactment.

With that, those are all the changes to the units of the National Park System in the proposed legislation as it passed the Senate.  It remains possible that the House of Representatives may add a few changes of their own as they consider the legislation this week.   In my next post, I will put together a summary of all the changes to the National Park System outside the those designated as official units.

This is Part I of a three-part series on changes to the National Park System in early 2019.  Check out Part II and Part III.

Updated on February 18, 2019 to correct errors and clarify the order of which Parks will become the 419th and 420th Units of the National Park System.

Share this Parkasaurus post: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmail
Follow Parkasaurus: Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

Wading in the World War II Memorial

A view of the whole World War II Memorial, taken from the top of the Washington Monument in 2007.  The large fountain in the central plaza has become popular for waders on hot summer days in Washington, despite the best efforts of the National Park Service.

 

When it comes to memorials, I’ve never thought twice about simply taking for granted that wading in the pools of a memorial is simply against the rules.  However,  Tim Krepp,  writing at the blog Greater Greater Washington, makes a very interesting, and even a persuasive case, that the National Park Service should allow wading in the large central fountain of the World War II Memorial.  On the hot and humid days of a typical Washington, DC summer that would certainly be refreshing for both adults and kids alike – but really, wading in a memorial?   That can’t be right, can it?

IMG_3703
The central fountain of the World War II Memorial – without anyone currently wading in it. Photo from 2015.

 

For sure, I have to imagine that there would be some large practical obstacles to this.  After all, if the large summer crowds that descend upon Washington’s Monumental Core during the spring and summer all started cooling their feet in the pool, then a much more advanced system of water treatment would surely be needed.   Just as importantly, the central pool was designed with a large number of fountains, and before people could safely wade in the pool, I imagine that those structures that create the beautiful spires of water in the foundtain would need to be removed:

This picture from March 2008 shows the underlying waterworks infrastructure beneath the central pool in the World War II Memorial.
This picture from March 2008 shows the underlying waterworks infrastructure beneath the central pool in the World War II Memorial.

 

However, Krepp’s argument isn’t primarily a practical one but a reflection on the nature of how a memorial’s design influences what a memorial design.  Definitely go over to the Greater Greater Washington blog and check it out yourself.  In a nutshell, however, Krepp points out that the design of the World War II Memorial isn’t really one of quiet contemplation.  Instead its collonades draw visitors in to a wide open plaza and gathering space.  In this sense, it really stands in contrast to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, also known as the Vietnam Wall.  As Krepp points out, hardly anyone needs a sign to know that the atmostphere at the Vietnam Memorial is one of quiet contemplation.

I find it hard to argue with that point – and if the atmosphere of the World War II Memorial is one of welcoming and gathering, then wouldn’t letting kids (and parents) wade in the pools on a hut summer day just fit in with the very design of what the memorial is trying to do?  Its certainly counter-intuitive, but it is straight-forward to see the case for how a place for Americans to gather, relax, and refresh, in the heart of downtown Washington would in fact be a celebration of the very freedom that so many gave their lives in the Second World War to defend.

The rear pool of the World War II Memorial commemorates the thousands of Americans  who died in the war.  This photo is from the Victory in Europe Day commemoration on May 8, 2015.
The rear pool of the World War II Memorial commemorates the thousands of Americans who died in the war. This photo is from the Victory in Europe Day commemoration on May 8, 2015.

 

That’s not to say that the memorial doesn’t aim for reflection.  Each end of the memorial contains a pavillion inscribed with the names of the major battles of the Atlantic and Pacific theatres of the war, respectively.  Moreover, the back wall of the memorial has a small reflecting pool and some 4,048 gold stars – one star for every 100 Americans who died during the war.  Certainly, I think it would be hard to support wading in this particular area of the memorial.  Yet, as staggering as it is to contemplate more than 400,000 lives lost in the fight for freedom during the Second World War, there’s no question that this memorial’s vast spaces and towering pillars somehow seem to overpower the overall impression of contemplation and rememberance that the stars are designed to invoke.  If you look at the first photo in this post, taken from the top of the Washington Monument, you can see the “Freedom Wall” of gold stars in the center back of the memorial, and how it fits into the overall space and design of this memorial, and I think you will see what I (and Tim Krepp) mean.

Anyhow, the argument is worth reading in full, so I encourage you to to go check it out.

Would letting a little girl like this little Stegosaurus wade  in the fountain show lack of respect to the memorial?  Or acknowledge the memorial's design as a public gathering space?
Would letting a cute girl like this little Stegosaurus wade in the fountain show lack of respect to the memorial? Or acknowledge the memorial’s design as a public gathering space?  After all you *know* she’s thinking about it!   Photo from 2015.

Correction: This post was originally published stating that David Koch, who also blogs at Greater Greater Washington had written the post on wading in the World War II Memorial. In fact, the post at Greater Greater Washington was written by Tim Krepp.  The above post has been corrected.

Share this Parkasaurus post: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmail
Follow Parkasaurus: Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

Happy Anniversary to Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument has released this awesome new logo for their Centennial.
Dinosaur National Monument has released this awesome new logo for their Centennial.

 

For what are surely obvious reasons, even though the Parkasaurus Family lives on the East Coast, this blog has a special place in its heart for Dinosaur National Monument, located in northeastern Utah and northwestern Colorado.

Thus, I just wanted to draw some attention to the visually stunning logo that was just released by Dinosaur National Monument to celebrate their centennial in 2015.  This logo has a little something of everything to love about Dinosaur National Monument – the scenic Green & Yampa Rivers,  a desert landscape, birding and wildflower viewing, animal habitat protection, American Indian petroglyphs, and a pristine night sky.

All of those images are contained within the image of an Allosaurus head, which is one of the common fossils found at this park.   Allosaurus, like the other dinosaurs found at Dinosaur National Monument, lived and died approximately 149 million years ago, near the end of the Jurassic time period.  Tyrannosaurus Rex, Allosaurus’ much more famous cousin, on the other hand, lived and died around 69 to 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous time period.  Yes, that’s right, that means that many of the dinosaurs that starred in the Jurassic Park movies didn’t actually live during the Jurassic.   I guess the name Mesozoic Park (Mesozoic is the time period geologists use to cover both the Cretaceous and Jurassic, as well as the Triassic, time periods)  just didn’t roll off the tongue as much.

From the beginning, the managers of Dinosaur National Monument have always emphasized that there is much more to see at this national park than just the famous fossil quarry where many of the bones have been left in situ, in a rock wall, just as paleontologists would find them.   This centennial logo certainly carries on that tradition in a visually beautiful way.  Its enough to make me wish that a special trip out to northeastern Utah could be added to the Parkasaurus family’s travel plans for 2015!  (Sadly, that does not appear to be in the cards.)  Still it will be worth keeping an eye on what special events will be planned at the park for later this year.

In this design, thought seems to have gone into almost every detail.   At the bottom of the logo, there is a diamond separating the word “Established” from the year “1915.”  That diamond actually represents the cattle brand used by one of the ranches that predated the national monument, and which still hold grazing rights within the monument lands.  A very nice touch!

WIth that year 1915, however, its also interesting to note that Dinosaur National Monument is actually one year older than the National Park Service itself – which is gearing up for its own centennial in 2016.  That will likely mean two years of special events and celebrations at this unique national park.

Share this Parkasaurus post: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmail
Follow Parkasaurus: Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

Extraordinary Outdoor Art Exhibit: Out of Many, One

The National Park Service has approved a truly extraodinary outdoor art exhibit in Washington, DC along the south side of the Reflecting Pool in what is formally known as West Potomac Park*.   Cuban-American Artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada took dozens of photographs of ordinary people in Washington, DC and used those photographs to create a composite image. That composite image was then used as the template for the landscaped image installed by the Reflecting Pool.  Incredibly, satellite navigation is used to ensure that the lines are precisely drawn.

See this video for more on how it was built.

The website DesignBoom.com has several great photographs of the completed work of art.  You will want to check it out as the image really is striking.  Also included at the link are photographs of how the work appears at ground level, showing how the visual image that appears from a distance is created.

Finally, the Washington Post has an excellent infographic on the installation, including photographs of a similar installation that Rodriguez-Garada did in Northern Ireland.

“Out of Many, One” will be in place throughout the month of October.  After the end of its run, the sand and dirt will be tilled back into the soil.   A visit to the mounmental core of Washington, DC is always a special experience.   For the next month, visitors will get an extra dose of the extraordinary.

* – As a little bit of National Park trivia, although this exhibition is generally referred to as being on the National Mall, technically the National Mall is legally the open greenspace between the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol Building.  Of course, in popular usage, the National Mall now includes the entire monumental core of Washington, DC including the Washington Mounment grounds, West Potomac Park, and the area around the Tidal Basin.

 

Share this Parkasaurus post: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmail
Follow Parkasaurus: Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

A Star-Spangled 200th Anniversary at Ft. McHenry National Monument

Photo Credit: NPS.gov
Photo Credit: NPS.gov

This weekend  (September 13-14, 2014) will be a big one at Ft. McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine, as they celebrate the 200th anniversary of the bombing of Ft. McHenry by British troops during the War of 1812.   This is the event, of course, that inspired Francis Scott Key to write his epic poem, The Defense of Ft. McHenry.   This poem was later set to a drinking song, To Anacreaon in Heaven, and was renamed The Star-Spangled Banner.

The festivities are off to a great start, however, with this fantastic aerial photo of a “living” Star-Spangled Banner on the grounds of the national park:

Share this Parkasaurus post: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmail
Follow Parkasaurus: Facebooktwittergoogle_plus