The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 1 Introduction

Park systems in England and America

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There is no "park system" in England as in the United States of America, where each town provides, in addition to its regular lines of streets, and its main thoroughfares leading straight from the centre to the more suburban parts, a complete system of parks. The more old-fashioned town of Boston was behind the rest, although it contained a few charming public gardens in the heart of the town. Of late years large tracts of low-lying waste grounds have been filled up, and one piece connected with another, until it, too, rejoices in a complete "park system." Chicago, Pittsburgh, and all these modern towns of rapid growth possess a well-ordered "park system." The conditions, the natural aspect of the country, and the climate are so unlike our own that no comparison is fair. Like everything else in the United States, they are on a large scale, and while there is much to admire, and something to learn, there is very little in the points in which they differ from us that could be imitated. London parks and open spaces, taken as a whole, are unrivalled. The history and associations which cluster round each and all of them, would fill volumes if recorded facts were adhered to; and if the imagination were allowed to run riot within the range of possibility, there would be no limit. Things which have grown gradually as circumstances changed can have no system. Their variety and irregularity is their charm, and no description of either the parks, gardens, or open spaces of London can be given as a whole. Each has its own associations, its own history, and to glance at some of London's bright spots and tell their stories will be the endeavour of these pages. [Amherst is writing about Frederick Law Olmsted's famous Emerald Necklace plan for connecting the parks of Boston into an Open Space System. It was the fame of this idea which brought the profession of Landscape Architecture to England, Europe and the world. TT]