Sunday, September 4, 2011

Land Park, Sacramento

The Pond.  Each water feature has a wide stone edge
 Recently I was hired to survey Land Park in Sacramento as part of a larger study to assess the historic features of the park – a dream job. I spent two days in the field photographing and recording field notes about everything in the park, and then summarized my finding by category. I organized the material by feature type – circulation, vegetation, buildings and structures, small scale features, water features, etc.

Money to build a large community park was given to the City of Sacramento by William Land in 1919. City fathers spent some time debating where to build the park and finally agreed on 236 acres of land known as the Swanston-McDivit Tract. In 1922 landscape architect Frederick N. Evans prepared a master plan for the park. Evans’ plan reflected the design trend of the day and incorporated lots of recreation features – five baseball fields, many single and group picnic facilities, an outdoor stage and amphitheater, two lakes and a pond, a golf course, a zoo and two separate children’s play – Fairytale Town and Funderland.

One of many group picnic facilities

Land Park is remarkably similar to Roeding Park in Fresno which I wrote about a year ago in September 2010. There is an outdoor dance floor, called Village Green in the southeast corner of Land Park that is exactly like two found in Roeding Park – the size, construction and a raised stage are essentially identical to those built earlier in Fresno. The water features, abundance of picnic facilities and two children’s play areas are also much like those found in Roeding Park thus it seems probable that Evans may have visited Fresno and decided to emulate that successful park.

The amphitheater and stage with Italian cypress backdrop

Both parks are located in valley communities that experience hot summer temperatures, so both parks consist predominantly of lawn and gorgeous, mature trees. Both parks include a nice variety of large shade trees – combinations of evergreens, conifers and deciduous trees, but one thing that distinguishes Roeding Park is how the trees are massed with a single species – more impressive than isolated specimens or groups of mixed species. In both parks the nearly continuous canopy of shade provided by these trees is most welcome.
Looking down the fairway of Land Park golf course

Land Park includes a number of structures constructed by the WPA – Works Progress Administration as part of President Roosevelt’s plan to put people back to work after the depression. Crews built several stone structures including a gazebo, a gracefully curved pergola, several monuments and what is now a wonderful perennial garden lovingly maintained by park staff member Daisy.

There is so much in Land Park that I’ll need to write at least one more post to tell you more.

Flamingos in the zoo