Monday, July 13, 2009

Notes on Fairmount Park


Formation of Philadelphia Parks Leading to Creation of Fairmount Park

William Penn is credited with naming an elevated parkland section of Philadelphia as “Faire Mount”. Early European settlers found this location scenic and beneficial. Benjamin Franklin determined this location near the Schuylkill River was useful for drawing drinking water. Afterwards, there would be recognition that steps would be needed to preserve this area preserved to protect the water supply and as a source for parks and recreation. During the Revolutionary War, the British soldiers saw Fairmount’s elevation as an ideal military location and they selected it for constructing one of their fortresses. (d-10)

Fairmount Park, as a functional entity, can claim an indirect organizational linkage dating to 1728. That year, John Bartram organized the first Botanic Garden within the United States. This Botanic Garden has since become a part of the Fairmount Park Commission. (d-49)

The Laurel Hill cemetery served as an early Philadelphia park. People in the early 19th century sought places with fresh air, grass and open spaces, and the Greenwood cemetery in New York and the Mount Auburn cemetery outside Boston also were popular public attractions. (g-75)

Fairmount Park was ultimately established as a public park in 1867 with the purchase of land on the west side of the Schuylkill River that was joined with existing city parkland on the river’s eastern side. The beginnings of this park system may be traced to 1812. (h-52) The city of Philadelphia purchased approximately 24 acres of land adjoining the river for water works and a reservoir. (b-12) The city bought about five acres of land known as Morris Hill, in what would eventually be in the southern part of Fairmount Park, for $16,000 with a public loan issued at 5% interest. Work on the water works and reservoir began in 1812 and was completed in 1815. (d-13) British author Charles Dickens visited the site and wrote “the water works at Fairmount were no less ornamental than useful, being tastefully laid out as a public garden and kept in best and neatest order.” (d-14)

There were public concerns that the parkland faced a threatened future. Several mansions within its vicinity had become abandoned and property values were declining. People began urging for acting to save the mansions as well as seeking more accessible open spaces for recreation and relaxation. This growing public demand successfully placed the issues of parks improvements and expansion before public officials. (d-15)

Around 1845, the College of Physicians, seeking to maintain clean water, successfully urged the city to also purchase approximately 45 acres known as Lemon Hill. (b-16) Lemon Hill was the site of a former mansion that had once belonged to Robert Morris, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, who himself had purchased the land from William Penn’s estate. British soldiers destroyed the mansion. After the Revolutionary War, Robert Morris served five years in debtor’s prison. Robert Morris’s estate was divided into two and in sold at Sheriff’s sale with one parcel sold to William Crammond and the other parcel sold to Henry Pratt. Henry Pratt had a greenhouse where the first lemon trees ever grown in the United States were produced. Thus, the area became known as Lemon Hill. (d-39) The purchase of Pratt Garden within Lemon Hill cost the city $75,000 around 1855. Prior to property devaluation, the same property had sold in 1836 for $225,000. (d-17) Pratt’s Garden is the location that some claim the first ice cream was served in America. (h-53)

A few years later approximately 8 acres of land along the river in Spring Garden was purchased. Sedgley Park, a 30 acre park, was purchased with the added benefit that it adjoined both Lemon Hill and Spring Garden, thus creating one large city park. (b-18) A group of citizens banded together to purchase Sedgley Park who then donated it to the city. (d-19) Later, a small strip of land was purchased between Fairmount and Lemon Hill, which allowed for an even larger continuous park. (b-1)

The Lansdowne 142 acre estate was purchased by a group of citizens for $85,000 who then sold it, without profiting, to the city. This land came with a mansion that was completed by John Penn and afterwards was owned by U.S. Senator William Bingham, former King of Spain Bonaparte, and Lord Ashborton. (d-20)

83 acres known as George Hill was deeded to the city by an elderly brother and sister, Jesse George and Rebecca George, who requested, in return, they would be provided $4,000 annually for the rest of their lives. It is recorded that two payments were made. (d-21) The Georges wanted their land preserved and had turned away offers from developers who wanted to construct homes on their property. The Fairmount Park Commission, in recognition of this, named the property Georges Hill. (h-54)

Public safety arose as a park concern. Philadelphia established Fairmount Park guards on April 14, 1863. 460 guards and 77 officers were hired who patrolled the park on foot, bicycle, horse, and rowboat. They were permitted to arrest without warrant suspected violators within the park. (d-23) The passage of Philadelphia’s Home Rule Charter in 1952 put an end to the Fairmount Park guards as city police became the city’s, and the park’s, law enforcement agency. (d-24)

On March 26, 1867, the legislature approved passage of a bill purchasing approximately 800 acres of the river’s western side and combining it with the existing park on the river’s eastern side. (d-11) This also provided water access for park users. This created a park that was over 1,200 acres large, including 500 acres of water surface along with the then-existing 600 acres on the river’s west bank. (b-2) This action created what was then the world’s largest sized park within city limits. (h-55) Thus, the main body of what is known today as Fairmount Park was created.

This park was placed under the control of Commissioners rather than Philadelphia’s City Councils. The legislature wished to keep the park system, which was viewed as requiring staff and management who were specialists in parks and landscaping, out of the hands of local political patronage. (b-3) It is probably safe to presume that some legislators had some political quarrel and distrust of some Philadelphia political leaders. Indeed, a proposal for the city to establish this park system had been stalled in the City Councils and City Councils opposed this state legislation. The Mayor, though, favored its passage. (b-4) While some legislators looked to the example of the lack of political influence exerted over New York’s Central Park as an example that should be followed, it would be foolhardy to believe politics can be totally separated from any public system. Frederick Olmstead, the architect of New York’s Central Park, would resign five (and return) times over conflicts with New York’s political leaders regarding Central Park matters. (h-59)

The first meeting of the Fairmount Park Commissioners took place on June 3, 1867. Mayor Morton McMichael was elected President, Major General George G. Meade was elected Vice President, Common Council President James F. Marcer was elected Secretary, and former U.S. Treasurer N.B. Browne was elected Treasurer. (c-5) Public officials, while serving ex offio, were an integral part of the Commission. The first public officials named to the Fairmount Park Commission were Common Council President James F. Mercer, Select Council President Joshua Sperling, and Chief Engineer Frederic Graff. (d-22)

The first Fairmount Park Commission offices were located at 241 S. 4th Street. Employees consisted of a chief engineer, two principal assistant engineers, and three junior assistant engineers. (d-25) The initial design for Fairmount Park was awarded to a local engineer, Herman J. Schwarzmann. His plan was chosen over designs submitted others, including Frederick Omstead and Calvert Vaux, who had previously designed New York’s Central Park. Herbert Schwarzmann’s work was so appreciated he would later have a major role in designing the Centennial International Exposition. (d-26) Frederick Olmstead, while not hired, would be retained in 1867 and again in 1869 for special consultative services. Olmstead advised creating a widened entrance to the park, recommending Spring Garden Streets for this purpose. While this suggestion was never undertaken, it likely created a seed of thought for the eventual widening of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. (h-60)

The early Fairmount Park Commissions met every six to ten days. It is noted that attendance among Commissioners was good, indicating a strong and dedicated interest in the park’s direction amongst its leaders. (h-56) Among the Commissioners’ earliest decisions were to construct six steamboat landings and to require boathouses to follow specific architectural standards. (h-57)

The Fairmount Park Commission had an advantage over many other cities’ parks in that their park was created from existing parks. By contrast, New York’s Central Park required about 25 years of planning, planting, and constructing in order to get underway. With Fairmount Park, there was little formal planning and many roads, paths, and foliage followed pre-existing unstructured and unplanned designs. One positive result is that Fairmount Park is more representative of natural conditions which many find more pleasant. (h-58) Still, there was much planning and administering for the Commission to do.

A city ordinance was passed that prohibited alcohol within Fairmount Park. This act aided in making nearby taverns less profitable so they subsequently left the area, which some park advocates found desirable. The park became known for its various activities such as fishing, rowing, sculling, cricket, croquet, and baseball. (d-27)

The first zoo in the United States opened in Fairmount Park on July 1, 1874. The concept of a zoo had been under consideration and development since 1859 when William Camac, the first President of the Zoological Society, began advocating a zoo be created. The zoo would receive greater attention upon the first birth within America of a chimpanzee followed by the first birth within America of an orangutan. (d-28) The zoo established a research laboratory which discovered that tuberculosis could be spread from humans to primates, thus leading to glass partitions at primate exhibits. This separation is credited for enhancing primate lives and allowing births in captivity to occur. (h-61) The zoo had 677,630 visitors in 1867, which was an annual attendance result that would not be surpassed until over a century later. (h-62) At present, the zoo receives about 1,200,000 visitors a year. (i-66)

The nation’s centennial in 1876 was seen as something that should be celebrated in the city where independence from England was declared. On February 24, 1870, both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia formally requested the Federal governments to create an international exhibition in Philadelphia. On July 4, 1873, the Fairmount Park Commission authorized 450 park acres for the exhibit. (h-63) The Federal government initially gave Philadelphia $1,500,000 for an exposition as well as provided $505,000 for a display building. The Centennial International Exposition was held in Fairmount Park. When the exposition was over, Congress changed its mind regarding its previous gift and demanded, and received back, its money for the Philadelphia centennial. (d-29)

Philadelphia area women raised $35,000, and they were aided by $100,000 in contributions from around the country, for a Women’s Pavilion that the Centennial featured. Among the exhibits presented were Froebel’s education ideas for infants. Interest in this thus allows the Centennial to be credited with helping to launch the concept of kindergarten. (d-30)

Over ten million visitors attended the Centennial between May 10 and November 10, 1876. When the Centennial closed, many of its artifacts and displays were preserved in what would serve as the basis for the Smithsonian National Museum. (d-31)

The Centennial also showcased the first monorail for carrying passengers anywhere in the world, which was also the first monorail of any type within the United States. This was also the first rail line existing totally within a park and was the first transit vehicle using rubber tires. A 5 ½ line with a two minute round trip attraction was offered. The line disappeared with the Centennial, yet the idea of a rail line with Fairmount Park was later revived by rail manufacturer William Wharton, Jr. The Fairmount Park Commission approved this new line on July 25, 1889. Using part of existing rail constructed through the park by the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad during 1829 through 1834, this pleasure ride ran for 8.8 miles. The line failed yet was restarted by Charles A. Porter. Porter was a member of the Hog Combine, a Republican Party organization that battled with fellow Philadelphia Republican leader Boies Penrose. Political power was a determining factor in who received transit lines and Porter won the rights to the Fairmount Park line when the Hog Combine topped Penrose. Porter chartered the Fairmount Park Transportation Company in New Jersey and the Fairmount Park Commission awarded this company the line, with both events occurring on November 10, 1894. The line began being built on June 1, 1896 and began operating on November 10, 1896. (j-67)

The Fairmount Park Transportation then created a subsidiary named the Woodside Real Estate Company to build an amusement park named Woodside Park on private property located next to Fairmount Park. The Fairmount Park line took passengers from Fairmount Park to Woodside Park, which opened for the summer of 1897. Woodside Park cost about $500,000. The trolley peaked during the 1920s carrying about two million passengers annually. The depression hurt the line and it survived bankruptcy in 1939, later became the oldest rolling stock in the United States and the second oldest in the world by 1946, and then ran its last run on November 6, 1946 when 85 buses took over its route. The owners of Woodside Park found rising property values attractive and sold the park to developers on October 1, 1955, thus ending the amusement park. (j-68)

The Fairmount Park Commission continued expanding the city’s parks offerings. Several years of protracted negotiations created a park in Cobbs Creek. Other notable additional parks were created by adding Morris Park, Hunting Park, and a park besides the Wissahickon. (d-33) In related parks developments, the Philadelphia Orchestra originated from Woodside Park concerts in 1898. (d-43) The only statute ever made of author Charles Dickens, who had visited Fairmount Park, was placed in Philadelphia’s Clark Park, which is park of the Recreation Department’s park system as opposed to the Fairmount Park system. (d-44)

Horse races were held in Fairmount Park at the Speedway. There were concerns that state law, during this era when horses were a main method of transportation, limiting horses in Fairmount Park to moving no faster than seven miles per hour would invalidate horse racing. As there was worry that the state legislature would not be able to enact a new law before the first horse race, it took an attorney, G. Douglas Bartlett, to discover that the Fairmount Park Commission had a right to make special event exceptions to this law. The Commission thus legally authorized horse racing. (k-69)

One of the most popular attractions ever brought to Fairmount Park was automobile racing, which may have attracted as many as 600,000 patrons on a single day. Philadelphia was host of one of the first auto races in Point Breeze in 1901. Mayor John E. Reyburn and State Sen. James McNichol, the leader of the Philadelphia Republican Party, favored bringing automobile racing to Philadelphia. When Mayor Reyburn, who otherwise rarely attended such meetings, urged his fellow Fairmount Park Commissioners to allow automobile racing within Fairmount Park, the Commissioners agreed. A 200 mile auto race was held each year form 1908 through 1911. The race was administered by the Quaker City Motor Club, who won praise for working with the Philadelphia Police Department in keeping spectators away from potential harm. While spectator deaths occurred in other cities, the only Philadelphia accident involved a police officer who was hurt while patrolling a dangerous area of the race. The proceeds of the races were earmarked for charity, yet controversies erupted when the press reported the Quaker City Motor Club kept the proceeds of a program as well as noting that the Fairmount Park Commissioners received, free of charge, 300 grandstand seats and 100 parking spaces, that otherwise could have been sold with the proceeds provided to the charities. The resulting ill will, along with the opposition of continuing the races from the next Mayor, Rudolph Blankenburg, aided by arguments from one Fairmount Park Commissioner, Dr. J. William White, that the races created a potential injury risk, led to the Fairmount Park Commission to end motor races in the park following the 1911 race. (g-70)

The success of the Centennial did not escape the attention of Philadelphia leaders in planning for celebrating America’s 150th anniversary in 1926. Fairmount Park hosted a Sesquiscentennial Exposition that included greeting President Calvin Coolidge with a 150 gun salute. Among events during these Philadelphia celebrations included a boxing match between Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey, a Papal Mass with an altar that replicated the main Vatican altar that was attended by over 250,000 people, the beginning of constructing the Swedish American Historical Museum that saw the Crown Price of Sweden lay its cornerstone, as well as the first public presentations of such products are electric refrigerators, wire and radio transmissions of photographs, non-silent “talkies” movies, and a public address system. (d-36)

The park system continued expanding its offerings. Robin Hood Dell, a music concert site, opened July 8, 1930. Famed conductor Eugene Ormandy first appeared at Robin Hood Dell on July 21, 1930 and he would continue conducting in Philadelphia for over 40 years. (d-45) Our nation’s first Children’s Zoo was open to the public in 1938. (d-46) Among activities found within Fairmount Park included kite flying, archery, bird watching, folk dancing, soap box derbies, and visits from nut enthusiasts who went “nutting”, or walking around observing the different kinds of nuts growing in the park. (d-47)

A major undertaking of the Fairmount Park Commission was the creation of Independence Hall Mall. This today is one of the world’s most famous historic sites where visitors see where the Declaration of Independence was signed and view the Liberty Bell. The Independence Hall Mall resulted from collaborative efforts with the Fairmount Park Commission and the Independence Hall Association. (g-65)

A notable change to the parks was the construction of the Schuyllkill Expressway through the park during the 1950s. This was constructed over objections from Park advocates. The State Highway Commission took the land it needed without compensating the Commission. Nor was any compensation provided for subsequent damage from gas fumes and other automobile related environmental damages. (d-34)

Philadelphia adopted a home rule charter in 1952 which allowed it greater leeway in its own governance while minimizing state government interactions. As part of the government restructuring that resulted from home rule, the Fairmount Park Commission began a department within the city government’s Recreation Department. (d-35) A board of judges, which is a part of the state government’s judiciary, continued appointing Commission members. (d-37) The home rule charter, though, added a requirement that Commission membership include Presidents of colleges of art or architecture and business executives. (d-42)

The state legislature approved creating the Fairmount Park Aquarium. The State Fishering provided the aquarium’s fish. Apparently this aquarium did not develop a solid following as Fairmount Park President John B. Kelly successfully convinced the Commission in 1962 to transform the aquarium into a swimming pool. (d-32)

Fairmount Park would expand to over 9,000 acres of park space located through Philadelphia. By 1974, it would have 400 buildings and 100 miles of walks, trails, paths, and roads. Fairmount Park would, over time, have the distinction of locating the first water works, botanical gardens, public drinking fountain, suspension bridge, paper mill, gin mill, environmental center, and international youth hostel within the United States. (d-11) Its pools were notable public attraction, with approximately 600,000 bathers using the pools in 1973. (d-48)

A visually attractive change within Fairmount Park occurred in 1976 when thousands of light bulbs were placed around the outlines of the boathouses. Thus people passing Boathouse Row at night were treated to a sparkling light display The Fairmount Park Commission along with PECO, the Schuykill Navy rowing clubs, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, City Council member Michael Nutter, and contributors recently made a $1 million upgrade to these lights. (q-73)

An event that attracted one of Fairmount Park’s largest crowds was when Pope John Paul II held a mass while standing on Logan Circle. Approximately 400,000 people attended this mass on October 3, 1979. (0-72)

The largest crowd to be in Fairmount Park likely occurred on July 3, 2005 when an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 people attended the Live 8 music concerts along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. (r-74) Attendees left behind an estimate 135 tons of trash. (s-75)

Today, Fairmount Park consists of parklands in East Fairmount Park. West Fairmount Park, Awbury Park, Bartram’s Garden, Bradford Park, Brookwood, Burholme Park, John F. Byrne Golf Course, Carpenter’s Woods, Carroll Park, Christ Church Yard, Clifford Park, Cloverly Park, Cobbs Creek Park and golf course, Fleuhr Park, Fernhill Park, Fisher Park, Fox Chase Farm, Franklin Square, Franklin Town Park, Germany Hill, Gustine Lake, Harper’s Hollow Park, Holme Crispin Park, Hunting Park, I-95 Cover Park, Kemble Park, John F. Kennedy Plaza, Logan Square, Loudon Park, Manatawna Farm, Manayunk Canal Towpath, Marconi Plaza, McMichael Park, Millbrook, Morris Park, Palmer Park, Pastorius Park, Penn Treaty Park, Pennypack Park, Poquessing Park, Rittenhouse Square, Franklin D. Roosevelt Park and golf course, Schuylkill River Park, Tacony Creek Park and golf course, Wakefield Park, Walton Run, Washington Square, Winston Park, Wissahickon Valley Park and golf course, Wister’s Woods, Wooden Bridge Run, Woodward Pines; Yeager Park; Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Cobbs Creek Parkway, Cresheim Drive Parkway, Lincoln Drive, Roosevelt Boulevard, Southern parkway (South Broad street), the parcel of land bounded by Stevens road, Welton street, Barlow street and Kelvin avenue, and the parcel of land generally bounded by Twenty-first Street, Porter Street, Twenty-second Street and Shunk Street, 8730 Old Line Road. (e-50) The Fairmount Park Commission is also responsible for planting, maintaining, and removing all trees along all of Philadelphia’s city streets. (e-51)

The Fairmount Park Art Association is Created

In 1871, Charles H. Howell, believing there should be public art accessible to the park attending public, met with Henry K. Fox and began discussions of creating a part art association. (c-6) The idea of attracting public art was also seen as a mean of assisting the Federal government’s plans of using Fairmount Park as the site of an international exposition in 1876. (c-7) Later that year, 15 men founded the Fairmount Park Association and elected Anthony J. Drexel, who had previously founded and was a major benefactor of the Drexel Institute (which has since become Drexel University), as its first President. Anthony Drexel served as President until his death in 1893. (c-8)

The first art piece acquired by the Fairmount Art Association was a statue honoring Major General George Gordon Meade, which was unveiled in 1887. It was constructed with a $5,000 contribution from the Pennsylvania legislature, $5,000 contributed by the Fairmount Art Association, and a Congressional Act that donated 20 twelve pound bronze canons to be used in the statute. (h-64) By 1922, the Association had itself provided for 45 pieces of art, including bronze, marble, and terra cotte statutes, fountains, and oil paintings. In addition, seven art pieces was donated to Fairmount Park by the City Branch. (c-9)

Philadelphia extended its appreciation for the arts by creating the Philadelphia Art Commission in 1907. This was expanded in 1911 when Mayor John Reyburn created the Art Jury. (d-50)

A Boulevard Extension Adjoining Fairmount Park

In 1891, 500 people who owned over two-thirds of Philadelphia’s taxable property, petitioned for the creation of a public boulevard connecting City Hall to Fairmount Park. The next year, the Philadelphia Council approved this idea by 71-27. (a-10) In 1916, Philadelphia voters approved $9 million for constructing this linking boulevard. What became the Benjamin Franklin Parkway was boosted by the opening of major attractions along its path, such as the Free Central Library which opened in 1927, the Philadelphia Museum of Art which opened in 1928, the Rhodin Museum which opened in 1929, the Fels Planetarium which opened in 1922, and the Franklin Institute which opened in 1934. The Parkway was constructed to include already existing structures such as the Academy of Natural Sciences, which located at its present site in 1876, and the Cathedral of S.S. Peter and Paul, which was built during 1846 to 1846. (d-40)

The influx of exciting art and architectural additions to Philadelphia raised public awareness about the value of art. This public support aided in passage of a city ordinance, proposed by Council member Henry Sawyer, requiring “that all future buildings, including municipal, must be embellished with art equal to 1% of the building cost.” (d-41)


d-10. pp. 1-9. The name “Faire Mount” would first appear in a 1682 map produced by Captain Thomas Holme, who was William Penn’s Surveyor General.

d-49, p. 222-224.

g-75. pp. 14-15. Clarence Clark notes that cemeteries, in the early 19th century, “were all the rage, and so deeply felt was the want which the supplied, and so truly beautiful were they in themselves, that it is not to be wondered as if people were slow to perceive that there was a certain incongruity between a graveyard and a place or recreation.”

h-52, p. 16.

b-12. p. 4 The initial park system in Philadelphia developed piecemeal. Fortunately, the various parks would be connected into one large continuous park system. The Fairmount Park Commission would later include various unconnected parks throughout Philadelphia.

d-13, p. 17

d-14, p. 18.

d-15, p. 19-20.

b-16, p. 4.

d-39, pp. 72-73.

d-17, p. 21.

h-53, p. 19.

b-18, p. 4

d-19, p. 21.

b-1. p. 4

d-20, p. 21.

d-21, p. 21.

h-53, p. 21.

d-23, p. 23.

d-24, P. 38.

d-11. State Sen. Eli K. Price is seen as a leader in seeking state legislative and City Councils approval to create a reservoir in Fairmount Park and then to create Fairmount Park itself. He also successfully argued in favor of having the Park administered by Commissioners appointed by the Board of Judges. He later was involved in creating the Fairmount Park Art Association and the Centennial International Exposition. His son and grandson would follow him in also serving as Fairmount Park Commissioners.

b-2, p. 2-4. The legislature was aware of attractive park systems such as Central Park in New York, London, and Dublin, and several legislators were encouraged to provide a similar park system in Philadelphia.

h-55, p. 21.

b-3, p. 12. State Rep. James Miller argued “by keeping the management from Councils we keep it out of party politics. City Councils elect or appoint their officers annually and the Superintendent of the Park, elected or appointed by them, would be selected not for fitness for the position, but his success in carrying out some precinct. He would just as likely be a shoemaker as a landscape gardener, and more likely to be a practitioner at a bar than anything else. ..Few men would be employed at any time in the year, except in the months of September and October, and the political loafers would be put to work by hundreds, whose business in the park would be to mutilate and destroy and out of it to influence the election.”

b-4, p. 12-14. Mayor Alexander Henry requested “the management of the park, particularly if it is to be enlarged, shall be entrusted to a Commission, while acting under the general supervision of the City Councils, shall yet be removed from their direct control.”

h-59, p. 39.

c-5, p. 32. The first Fairmount Park Commissioners were Eli K. Price, John Welsh, William Sellers, Joesph Harrison, John C. Cresson, N.B. Browne, Theodore Cuyler, Henry M. Phillips, Gustovas Remak, and George C. Meade. It is noted that a statute of George Meade would later be placed in honor of Commissioner Meade in recognition of his service as a General during the Civil War.

d-22, pp. 22-23.

d-25, p. 25. The annual salaries were $4,000 for the chief engineer, $2,200 for the principal assistants, and $1,080 for the junior assistants.

d-26, p. 24. Frederick Olmstead and Calvert Vaux would go on to design a park in Buffalo as well as the plans for Riverside, Ill, a suburb of Chicago, among other projects. Their partnership would dissolve as Calvert Vaux continued to concentrate more on buildings while Frederick Olmstead focused more on landscape architecture and parks.

h-60, pp. 39-43.

h-56, p. 29

h-57, p. 23.

h-58, pp, 35-38.

d-27, p. 25.

d-28, p. 27.

h-61, pp. 57.

h-62, p. 56.

i-66, p. B1.

h-63, p. 62.

d-29, p. 30.

d-30, p. 30. Although it is an irony that while Pennsylvania is where the idea of kindergarten was introduced to the public, Pennsylvania remains one of the few states where kindergarten is not legally mandated.

d-31, p. 30.

j-67, pp. 3-9.

j-68, pp. 19-31.

d-33, p. 36-7.

d-43, p. 162.

d-44, p. 149.

k-69, p. 6.

k-70, pp. 9-177. The author, Michael Seneca, theorizes that the “patrician” composition of the Fairmount Park Commissioners led the Commissioners to disagree with continuing the sport of auto racing. Seneca believes that when Commissioner White argued the races “caused trouble by attracting outsiders who cause interference”, this indicated that motor racing failed to be accepted by the Philadelphia social society to which most Commissioners belonged. One Commissioner, Fred Dunlop, voted in favor of keeping the auto races. Commissioner Dunlop rejected Commissioner White’s arguments that auto racing was dangerous, and, noting that Dr. White chaired the Clinical Surgery Department at the University of Pennsylvania, argued “football is more dangerous, as statistics of accidents and fatalities of that game will show. If we withdraw the motor races in Fairmount Park, will the University of Pennsylvania stop football games?”

d-36, p. 39,

d-45, p. 163.

d-46, p. 165.

d-47, p. 168-9 and p. 236.

h-65, p. 115.

d-34, p. 37-38.

d-35, p. 38.

d-37. p. 43. A Board of Common Pleas Judges selects ten Fairmount Park Commission members. Other Commission members serve automatically by virtue their public office, namely the Mayor, City Council President, the city’s Chief Engineer, the city’s Surveyor, and the Commissioners of Recreation, Public Property, and Water. While appointing Fairmount Park Commissioners may have been intended to minimize the political influences upon the Fairmount Park Commission positions, appointments by Judges did not remove politics from the Fairmount Park Commission. A panel of Judges has proven quite capable of making political appointments. Indeed, it can be argued that political leaders are as, if not more, concerned, about the status of their community which includes its parks system. Political figures who have actively served as Fairmount Park Commissioners included Mayor Morton McMichael from 1867-1879 and U.S. Representative Henry Phillips from 1881-1884.

d-42, p. 196.

d-32, p. 35. Commission President John Kelly’s son, John, Jr. and John, Jr.’s wife Kelly were both Olympic swimmers who became involved in swimming programs at this swimming pool. The pool, though, would later be transformed into a building for housing the Fairmount Park Street Tree offices.

d-11, p. 2.

d-48, p. 171.

q-73, p. 6.

0-72, p. 7.

r-74, p. A6.

s-75, p. A1.

e-50. Section 15-201.

e-51. Section 15-203.

c-6, p. 11.

c-7, p. 13. This demonstrates some foresight by Philadelphians five years before the Centennial that an attractive offering would lure tourists into the city and provide it with an economic boost.

c.8, p. 33. Drexel thus served as President from 1871 until 1893. The other original officers were H.Corbit Ogden as Vice President, James J. Claghorn as Treasurer, and John Bellanger Coy as Secretary.

h-64, p. 94.

c-9, p. 129-131.

d-50, p. 196.

a-10. pp. 1-6. This Council bill was introduced and signed by the Mayor in less than ten months, which is considered a relatively quick time for a bill to be so approved. During Council deliberations, the Mayor indicated his support for the measure, which presumably assisted its speedy passage.

d-40. 99. 95-112. The construction of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway was not without controversy. Chief Justice Von Monschzisker was upset that the parkway did not adhere to a purely American architectural style. He stated he opposed “an European avenue…which represents a lost opportunity for the making of an uniquely American street. To my mind no fine architecture can be found than that of the colonial period.”

d-41. p. 96.


The decision over which governing body may create, administer, and upkeep parks is a decision that political authorities have considered and argued, and continue debating. Some communities administer parks as an agency within their existing government structure. Other communities place the authority for operating parks to an agency separate from their community governance structure, and they have done so by establishing varying degrees of supervision and cooperation by the community governance. Such separation could be the result of state legislative or city council proposals that become enacted.

Proponents of separating parks management from local governance argue that parks require specialized professional management that can not be handled by general public managers or elected officials. Some local officials prefer yielding this authority as they feel they lack either the technical skills or the political will to make park management decisions. (f-18) Some may believe that, by not creating a separate management, the park system will fall prey to patronage employees who are more concerned about political outcomes than the outcome of the parks. (f-10) Some also believe that a separate park management will more easily attract private donors and private support than if the park were seen as a central government office. (f-11) Advocates of this position helped create park systems in communities such as New York, Chicago, and Cleveland, as well as Philadelphia, to be separate and theoretically less subject to negative political influences.

Local government creating separate governing units for specific purposes date back to England in the 1600s where turnpikes were created to solve what was then a new problem that fell outside the usual bounds and expertise of local governance. Massachusetts created the first special district within the United States when it created school districts in 1789. Philadelphia has a long history of establishing special districts dating back to 1790 when such several districts were created for schools. police, prisons, port development, poor relief, and public control. (f-8) Thus, it may not have been unusual when a special district for parks was proposed and approved for Philadelphia. By 1972, there were 750 special districts nationwide for parks and recreation. (f-9)

Proponents of keeping park management within local governance argue this increases accountability of parks managers and operations. Remaining part of the usual political process provides greater press and public awareness of park operations, whereas separate park management may not receive as much scrutiny and public awareness. Fragmented government systems can create territorial disputes and lead to public confusion over which officials should be contacted regarding park related matters. Further, some reject the argument that the specialized professional management required of parks requires they should be administered separate from the rest of local governance, noting that most departments, such as police, fire, legal, utilities, etc. all require specialized professional management of some kind, and these departments remain part of local governance.

Some argue that parks should be administered on a regional basis, which entails administering parks beyond city boundaries. A larger area of administration is argued will allow economies of scale acquisitions for a larger park system, thus taking advantage of volume discounts in acquisitions. Further, operating over a large area should allow administrators to better apportion resources to avoid inequitable distributions. Some detractors argue, though, that administrators could also act to create inequities that provide greater portions of resources to particular areas which the administrators favor.

Another body of opinion believes it matters little how the parks systems are structured. Some research suggests that park agency structure has little correlation with park agency outcomes. (n-7) While the degree and type of political interactions may differ, there will always be some type of politics in any type of agency. (l-5) Some argue that the professionalism or ability of the administrator, or uncontrollable outside factors such as the economic state and the nature of the community itself and whether such a community attracts enough interest and financial support of parks, may be more important than the agency structure in determining its success. Robert Moses, who served for 35 years as New York’s Park Superintendent, and Robert Crawford, Philadelphia’s Superintendent of Parks and Recreation from 1946 to 1967, were both legendary for using their experience and political skills to convince City Councils to appropriate funds to their departments. (m-6)

Cleveland acted to depoliticize its parks management in 1917 by abolishing an elected County Park Board for a three member Park Board appointed for staggered three years terms by the Probate Judge. It is noted that the Probate Judge was elected as a result of a partisan primary nomination followed by a nonpartisan general election. (l-1)

The Illinois state legislature first authorized a park district for part of south Chicago and three adjacent towns in 1866, which, while initially rejected by votes in these localities, finally was enacted and won voter approval in 1869. In the same year, the Illinois legislature created another park district for a part of north Chicago and nearby suburbs but did so without requiring voter approval. Park officials in these early parks were selected either by the Governor of by Circuit Court Judges. (f-12) By 1930, Chicago has 23 different park districts. (l-2) Park districts represented the inability of local government, both due to financial restrictions and a conservative view of local officials against spending funds for parks, to create parks, leading park advocates to seek parks established and administered through separate park districts. (f-13) People who a park created in Chicago found they could petition the Circuit Court to create an election on whether a park should be established, and voters would approve create a new park. This was an easier route than convincing city officials to create a park. (f-14)

A University of Chicago study of Chicago’s governance included findings that the different park systems created wide differences in park resources offered to different parts of town. Further, the economic depression of the times led several parks to default on their bonds. (f-15) This aided in the Illinois legislature deciding to merge all the park districts into one special district in 1933. This movement was assisted by the defeat of an established system of Republican leaders in Chicago were expressed little interest in parks with Democratic leaders who sought agencies to place Democratic patronage employees, and the special district was created with a patronage system. (f-16) Chicago voters approved consolidating the parks in 1934 with 507,955 voters in favor and 174,641 opposed. (f-17) The resulting Chicago Park District was administered by five Commissioners appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council. The District, which controlled 6,000 park acres and 205 miles of boulevards and park driveways, issued a general property tax as well as collect park fees and licenses and issued park acquisition and improvement bonds upon voter referendum approval. (l-3)

There was a movement to merge Chicago’s parks system into the city governance. There were concerns that the parks and the city were evolving without coordinating goals between parks and the city as a whole. (f-14) City Council adopted a resolution requesting this to occur in 1947. A private research organization, the Chicago City Club, endorsed this idea, arguing that consolidation would better coordinate services and achieve economies of scale and lower government costs. The legislature, though, was not moved to act to make such a change. (l-4)

New York established a park commission separate from the city government for its Central Park. The New York state legislature and New York City Common Council enacted a law to have the Supreme Court appoint commissioners for a park to be established in Jones’s Wood in 1851. This law was repealed in 1854. In 1853, Judge William Mitchell make five appointments of commissioners would be assess and condemn land which ultimately led to Central Park. (g-76)

Once the decision to create a park system has been made, there are decisions on how the manage the park. Parks need to be designed and planned carefully, followed by implementation to create the park which will then require continuous maintenance and review and revision of what park offerings should be. (u-19) Some advise that park managers create a General Management Plan, or some similar operational planning strategy. This entails a continually revised and changing action plan that determines management objectives, procedures on implementing objectives, and understands the diverse needs of a park, including its ecology along with the social and economic costs and benefits of park offerings to the public. The plan should note any limitations, be they legal or resource or otherwise, and should compare suitable alternative plans for determining the best plan and fallbacks due to unintended outcomes or unexpected circumstances. (u-20)

Public involvement in decision making regarding parks is important. The public pays for parks with their tax money and the public is the intended consumer, even if indirectly. Park official should seek public opinion, both to determine consumer expectations and as an important element of our democratic process to allow the public to have a voice in affecting policy outcomes. A park agency may create an advocacy system within its management where public views, including the views of park users, organized groups of park advocates, and unrepresented groups, are sought and seriously considered in the decision making process. (v-23)

Financing a park and its park operations is an important element to the existence and continuation of a park. Public park managers need to be aware of the methods available to them to obtain funds and to then budget appropriately within available budget resources. Means that various parks use to receive funds include tax revenues, grants-in-aid from public sources, government revenue sharing, private gift giving, private will bequests, private trust fund endowment donations, revenues from special events, revenues from leases within the park, revenues fro rentals within the park, revenues from sale of surplus property, bond revenues, profits from management run concessions, and fees and charges to park users. (u-21) Some parks turn the operation of a park to a private management system that pays the public entity funds and then expects to earn a profit by charging fees. That removes the public sector from the concerns of park management, yet, it may also decrease the ability of the public sector to affect park management which could mean that policies that place a profit incentive may overcome policies the favor the public good. (u-22)


f-18. Daniel Foster Stetzer argues that “special districts are effective instruments in circumventing many dysfunctional aspects of society such as conflicting interests, restrictive law, unresolved questions or equity, and local control.”

f-10. p. 31.

f-11. p. 33.

f-8. pp. 12-13.

f-9. p 17.

n-7. p. 141. David N. Emanuelson concluded “there appear to be no practically meaningful differences in efficiency between consolidated or decentralized park and recreation agencies.”

l-5, p. 252.


l-1, pp. 71-72. John C. Bollens notes that “advocates of the park program felt strongly that greater progress would be made if the directors were not made subject to the electoral process. They reasoned that appointment by the…court could appeal to outstanding citizens to accept membership on the Board.”

f-12. p. 49.

f-13. p. 84-85. Donald Foster Stetzer noted that conservative atmosphere of Chicago officials to create parks may have been a large factor, as “even when the debt limit was not reached, there has been a reluctance of municipal official to pursue an aggressive policy of park construction.”

f-14. p. 89-90.

l-2, pp. 133-134.

l-3, pp. 135-138.

f-14. p. 92.

f-15. p. 100.

f-16. p. 100.

f-17. pp. 101.

l-4, p. 138. John C. Bollens expressed his opinion on the matter, writing “there is seemingly no logical reason for the continuation of the park functions apart from the city government, but logic does not always prevail in human situations.”

g-76. pp. 19-20.

u-19. Dwight McCurdy advises that “planning is the foundation of park system management. If a system and/or park is properly planned and the plans are properly executed, then and only then can the intended purpose be achieved. Without proper planning, the management of the park or system will be less than efficient, or even nonfunctional, and will certainly provide a lower than desired quality of experience.”

u-20. pp. 18-20.

u-21. p. 23.

v-23. p. 189. John Bollens and Henry J. Schmandt discuss the usefulness of a “clientless professional” who raises concerns of underrepresented communities and of an “inside advocate” who argues on behalf of communities in decision making process.

u-22. p. 28.


Issues Regarding Who Should Manage Fairmount Park and Philadelphia Parks

Two members of Philadelphia’s City Council. Blondell Reynolds Brown and Darrell Clarke, have introduced a proposal to terminate the Fairmount Park Commission and place its’ management completely within the Recreation Department. Mayor John Street commented favorably on the idea, stating the Fairmount Park Commission “ought to be incorporated into the city and made a regular part of the city. I don’t know that the situation we currently have is as effective as it could be.” Approval of this would require amending the City Charter which would also need the affirmative approval of Philadelphia voters on a measure approving this Charter change (f-1)

Phil Goldsmith, former Fairmount Park Commission Executive Director also announced his approval of this proposal, stating the Fairmount Park Commission “is far too insular and thinks of itself as separate from the city when its truly not.” Debra Wolf Goldstein, Fairmount Park Commission Vice President disagreed, explaining “it sounds so easy to say let’s abolish us and get of inefficiencies, but it misses the point that we are the bulwark and protection from the parkland being frittered away. I think that having an independent body such as the Commission is the best hope for the park in the long run.”. (f-2) The Philadelphia Daily News Editorial Board endorsed the proposal, arguing “abolishing the Commission is the right first step, and making the parks a city department and consolidating its resources with those of the Recreation Department is a smart idea that we have advocated. The logistics and structure of this new entity must be carefully crafted. Fortunately, the city charter change process leaves time to do that.” (g-3) The Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Board agreed that this decision should not be rushed and expressed some reservations, noting “before that step is taken, though, citizens need more answers…Bringing the park firmly under the Mayor won’t guarantee better leadership. Nor will it assure a bigger slice of city funding. And it may or may not help is shaping a vision of Fairmount Park as an asset to enhance neighborhoods and attract and retain residents.” (p-7)

Issues Regarding the Curfew and Homelessness

An issue facing Fairmount Park District officials is enforcement of its 1 am curfew. The park, in particular the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, attracts many houseless campers while offering few legitimate toilet options. Some argue this unlawful activity of violating the curfew, and making the parks less attractive to neighbors and tourists, requires arrest. Yet, homeless people have few alternatives on where to locate on evenings and some argue that it helps city agencies with homeless services to know that homeless tend to congregate at known locations. Some argue more shelters and housing options need to be created, which definitely would assist more people, yet some chronic homeless will reject even shelter and prefer to be outdoors. (0-6)

Issues Regarding the Philadelphia Zoo

While the zoo is administered separately from Fairmount Park, the location of the Philadelphia Zoo within Fairmount Zoo intertwines the operations and futures of both. The zoo is undergoing financial difficulties with a $25 million deficit in its operating budget. In addition, it has raised $60 million towards a capital budget of $100 million. The zoo administrators have responded by terminating 37 jobs and increasing admissions prices. Administrators observe that the government funding sources, who have their own financial difficulties, have been reducing funds and that more museum and cultural institutions are competing for these fewer funds. (i-4)


f-1, p. 7.

f-2, p. 13.

g-3, P. 15. The editorial notes that abolishing the Fairmount Park Commission was proposed by then-Councilman John Street in 1994 and observes “the uproar was so pronounced you would have thought someone had suggested melting down the Liberty Bell. But times and attitudes have changed.”

p-7, p. 8

o-6, pp. 6-7. Deputy Managing Director Rob Hess stated, regarding homelessness in the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, that “if I was homeless, I know that’s where I’d go. I’d lay next to the Logan Circle fountains to drown out the traffic noise and get a good night’s sleep.”

i-4, pp. B1, B8.



(v) Bollens, John C. and Henry J. Schmandt. The Metropolis. 4th Edition. New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1982.

(l) Bollens, John C. Special District Governments in the United States. Berkeley, Ca.: University of California Press, 1961.

(g) Cook, Clarence C. A Description of the New York Central Park. New York: Benjamin Bloom, Inc., 1979.

(j) Cox, Harold E. Fairmount Park Trolley. Forty Fort, Pa.: Harold E. Cox, 1970.

(m) Eckart, William John, Jr The Impact of Professional Preparation on Municipal Budgets in Parks and Recreation. Hartford, Ct.: University of Connecticut Press, 1993.

(m) Emanuelson, David N. A Comparative Analysis of Illinois Park Districts and Illinois Municipal Parks and Recreation Districts. DeKalb, Il.: Northern Illinois University, Department of Political Science, 2002.

(c) Fairmount Park Association. Fairmount Park Association: An Accont of its Origin and Actvities from its Foundation in 1871. Philadelphia: The Fairmount Park Association, 1922.

(d) Klein, Esther M. Fairmount Park. Brywn Mawr, Pa.: Harcum Junior College Press, 1974.

(u) McCurdy, Dwight R. Park Management. Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1985.

(b) Miller, James. Speech of Hon. James Miller on the Bill Authorizing the Purchase of Grounds on the West Side of the Schuykill in the City of Philadelphia for a Public Park Delivered in the House of Representatives, Harrisburg, Pa. on Monday, March 20, 1865, Philadelphia: J.A. Wagenseller, Printer, 1867.

(e) Philadelphia, City of. Municipal Codes. Title 15 Parks and Recreation.

(k) Seneca, Michael J. The Fairmount Park Motor Races, 1908-1911. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Co, Publishers, 2003.

(h) White, Theo B. Fairmount Park, Philadelphia’s Park. Philadelphia: The Art Alliance Press, 1975.

(t) Stetzer, Daniel Foster. Special Districts in Cook County. Chicago: The University of Chicago Department of Geography, 1975.


(q) Campisi, Gloria. “Volunteers Were the Spark for Boathouses’ New Lights”, Philadelphia Daily News. June 29, 2005, p. 6.

(o) Geringer, Dan. “For Homeless, Parkway’s the Motel”, Philadelphia Daily News. June 27, 2005, pp. 6-7.

(r) Moore, Tina. “Flush With Success, City Readies Again,” Philadelphia Inquirer. July 4, 2005, p. A6.

(a) Hicks, Thomas L. “The History of the Park Boulevard and the Financial Condition of the City of Philadelphia”, Philadelphia Inquirer, July 2, 1894.

(g) Philadelphia Daily News Editorial Board. “Council Bill to Take Park By the Horns”. Philadelphia Daily News. June 18, 2005, p. 15.

(p) Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Board. “Onward, But Not Without Public’s Impact”. Philadelphia Inquirer. June 27, 2005, p. A8.

(s) Schogol, Marc. “After Party, the Cleanup”, Philadelphia Inquirer. July 4, 2005, pp. A1, A6.

(i) Stoiber, Julie. “Zoo’s President Stepping Down in the Spring”, Philadelphia Inquirer. June 25, 2005, pp. B1, B8.

(f) Young, Earni. “Parks to Merge with Rec. Dept.,” Philadelphia Daily News. June 16, 2005, pp. 7, 15.


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