The call for expanded access to public parks and forest preserves strongly articulated in the 1909 Plan of Chicago had counterparts on the national level in the creation of the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service. The New Deal greatly expanded the footprint of these progressive initiatives both by enlarging the size and number of parks and preserves and through new initiatives such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). From 1933 to 1942, the CCC provided over 3 million unemployed American men with jobs devoted to the preservation of natural resources and building park infrastructure in order to encourage recreation amidst natural surroundings. In so doing, it took a coordinated approach to landscape design, architecture, and infrastructural development that echoed those advocated and applied by urban planners.
This image shows architect Olin Smith’s 1935 plan for a concession area in Texas’s Palmetto State Park. The CCC hired several experienced park planners, including Smith, from the National Park Service (NPS). These professionals developed master plans for Texas’s state parks based on NPS standards, which included land use guidelines, circulation patterns for automobiles and park visitors, and blueprints for park facilities. These new plans also embraced the “NPS Rustic” aesthetic. Horizontal lines and low architectural forms, the use of local building materials, and an effort to harmonize structures with their natural surroundings characterize this approach. This concession layout exemplifies the NPS Rustic style. Smith located the structure in a grove of trees, and included a “stone seat wrapped around [a] tree.” He also incorporated a terraced design so the structure would complement the land’s natural contours, as indicated by dotted lines in the drawing.
Carr, Ethan. Wilderness by Design: Landscape Architecture and the National Park Service. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.
Merrill, Perry Henry. Roosevelt's Forest Army: A History Of The Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942. Montpelier, Vermont: P.H. Merrill, 1981.
Paige, John C.. The Civilian Conservation Corps And The National Park Service, 1933-1942: An Administrative History. Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, 1985.
Davis, Ren and Helen. Our Mark On This Land: A Guide To The Legacy Of The Civilian Conservation Corps In America's Parks. Granville, Ohio: McDonald & Woodward Pub. Co., 2011.
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Civilian Conservation Corps, “Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Concession Layout, Palmetto State Park, March 6, 1935.” Courtesy of Texas State Library & Archives Commission