Category Archives: Parks in the News

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