History & Evolution of Environmental & Landscape Planning


Based on the lecture and discussions in class, identify the main milestones discussed through the different eras. Select the most significant two in your own views and describe them in further details explaining the reasons of their importance.

In couple of lines indicate if you agree more with Muir or Pinchot and why?

Your response should be 1½-2 pages, typed, Times New Roman, 12 font, 1.5-spaced. It shall be posted on the class blog.   #Env_Plan #Landscape


18 thoughts on “History & Evolution of Environmental & Landscape Planning

  1. Many milestones have shaped the development of landscape architecture and city planning throughout history. Some were more significant than others. For example, in ancient China, it was recognized that man-made landscapes could be used to fulfill physical needs by providing defense and necessary drinking water as in the case of the West Lake of Hangzhou. Over time, the Chinese realized that this man made lake was thought to be “natural.” Another milestone was introduced in America when Thomas Jefferson superimposed a square grid system over the newly-purchased northwest territories. This grid sectioned the wilderness into neat squares that disregarded existing systems like rivers, mountains and prairies. It was a powerful example of men imposing their own power over the landscape. In the 19th century, the industrial revolution caused the environmental quality of cities to deteriorate. Additionally, large surges of immigration put a strain on limited living space. These less than ideal living situations sparked the Urban Parks and Playground Movement, in which designers started creating green refuges within the busy city. They eventually realized that not all people could get to the parks so they created greenways or park systems. Reformers also decided to build playgrounds in slum neighborhoods thinking that it would somehow mitigate crime. Within this movement, Frederick Law Olmsted designed Central Park and countless other outdoor spaces. He invented the title of “Landscape Architect” to describe the profession. Another major milestone, and I think a very harmful one, was the invention of the Garden City concept by Ebenezer Howard. This idea is to take people out of big cities and relocate them to smaller “new towns” that are surrounded by green belts. This utopian vision had damaging consequences since the ideals are still sought after in the form of suburbs. Later on, the act of mapping changed the way planners and landscape architects worked because it allowed them to see many aspects of a site at once. The practice was started by Warren Manning and continued by McHarg. These comprehensive maps showed that landscapes are systems of complex elements. Another major milestone for America was the implementation of highway systems cutting through cities and across open lands. Eventually, in the second half of the 20th century, environmental protection became an important part of city planning. People became more aware of the consequences of development with no checks and balances. Many clean up methods and preventative measures were taken. Awareness spread through the creation of earth day. Today, landscape architecture has become focused on developing artful designs sustainably. Resilient landscapes have become the goal in order to save the environment. Which brings up the question, who is right? Muir- who believed that conserving the wilderness and leaving it untouched was ideal, or Pinchot- who said that development would happen no matter what, so we should design sustainably. Personally, I agree with Muir. In this day and age, stresses on the environment have reached new heights, and it will be impossible to try to back track to any semblance of what the earth looked like before. We should identify the areas that are the most wild and vulnerable and protect them. There are always alternatives- it may seem like the best course of action to build in an endangered prairie site but there will always be another way. If those in charge are creative and open minded, they will find a way to accommodate the growing population without developing any further outside of that already established.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Landscape Architecture and Planning of various cities throughout each era have really influenced the cities and landscapes that we know today. This change of planning throughout America began to come into play between 1890 and 1920, when population growth and industrial development started to take over. This phase of economic and population growth began to take a negative toll on the environmental quality throughout the United States. Green spaces found within cities was becoming more remote, because of the need for accommodate all of the new populations and up and coming businesses. Once the industrial revolution ended, urban parks and playground movement began to develop throughout many cities. Movements such as the “City Beautiful” and “Garden Cities” began to look at the overall “quality of the environment and public health (Daniels, 182).”
    The second era started to assess ecological planning of many areas while combining many ideas from the Garden City movement, which took a closer look at the conservation of natural areas. During this era, John Muir’s ideas of creating a “regional economic development linked with ecological planning (Daniels, 183)” so that people could make this transition between civilization and the wild began to be discussed. Also, Gifford Pinchot’s ideas of conserving part of the natural resource, but expanding only to a certain boundary was discussed. Although more initiative was beginning to take place with conserving natural resources, the top priority was to create continual economic growth in each city. I believe that this era was significant, because people such as Muir and Pinchot began to see that people were beginning to destroy the natural environment and were pressed to make changes. Although not much was done to really preserve the environment during this era, I believe that the ideas of these men, began to stir in other influential people’s minds, which began to create positive, lasting impacts for the future.
    In the third era, many people began to take notice that the cities were getting very dirty and pollution was a big issue. This realization helped to begin implementation of “healthier, more attractive places to live, work, and create (Daniels, 185).” During the fourth era, different types of energy became very big, environmental issue. Because of our new dependence on oil, people began to move farther away from the city core, resulting in city sprawl forming. On the flip side, a positive that occurred in this era was that the internet was expanding, so there was better data through GIS and other computer modeling.
    Lastly, in the fifth era, our society is beginning to address sustainability throughout our systems. America is now beginning to realize that the environmental quality of our world is very important. We have began to create designs that will create minimal impact to the environment and thinking about how we can continue to save water and energy. I believe that this era is also one of the more significant, because everyone is beginning to do what they can to make positive changes for the environment. Although many of the issues that have occurred to the environment can not be completely reversed, our society has began to make positive impacts regarding the matter of resilient landscapes and bettering the environment. John Muir and Gifford Pinchot had influential ideas concerning the natural environment and how we should protect it. John Muir believed that conserving all of the natural environment and leaving it untouched by humans was the best option. Gifford Pinchot believed that human population is going to continue to grow, so expanding onto part of the untouched land, and then protecting the other half was ideal. I personally agree with John Muir. I believe that instead of sprawling our newfound human populations out onto untouched land, we should begin to think more about our cities. I believe that our cities are going through an era of change and as Landscape Architects and Planners, we need to create our cities so that these extra populations will be able to live and thrive. Also, it is important to protect the natural environment to we can continue to make environmentally friendly decisions that will continue to impact future generations to come.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Daniels, Thomas L. “A Trail Across Time: American Environmental Planning From City Beautiful to Sustainability.” Journal of the American Planning Association 75, no. 2 (2009): 178-92. doi:10.1080/01944360902748206.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I enjoyed reading your positive look towards the future and that we are doing well. And that we, as landscape architects and environmental planners, are doing the best we can to develop designs that has little/no impact. And striving to create sustainability plans and resilient landscapes.


  3. Each era has significance and without them we wouldn’t be where we are today. It’s hard to say the each decision in an era was the correct one, but they were made with careful consideration by someone. The first large movement was the progressive era, which was the beginning of physical planning and urban design in response to the unacceptable conditions of the cities. Influencers such as Frederick Law Olmstead Sr., designed public spaces for all people to interact. Olmstead’s idea then progressed to the City Beautiful movement which incorporated nature into cities and civic centers. The last movement I will mention in the era is the preservation of wildlife and natural resources. John Muir and Gifford Pinchot both had ideas to protect the natural resources. While their ideas were different, they still had protecting natural resources as the end goal. The first era provided the base for future urban and ecological planning and was the first environmental planning involving federal policies.
    The second era involved regional ecological planning and natural science. This era took the pieces of conservation and preservation from the first era and expanded on it. During the second era many policies and acts were created to preserve and conserve parts of the country. While these policies and acts were in place, business continued to ignore the environment and the quality declined. You can see a quick decline after WWII when urban sprawl spread and industries expanded. With the expansion and loss of wildlife habitat it’s assumed that the environmental problems weren’t being addressed to the fullest extent.
    The birth of modern environmental planning is the third era. This was a time where people were in desperate need of change because of poor water quality, smog, and more. On April 22, 197” the first Earth Day was held. This brought attention to the poor environmental quality. Because of Earth Day and federal legislation, people become more aware of the environment. This era was assumed to have enough data collected from the government and knowledge to create a set of standards for water and air quality.
    The fourth era seemed to be a trying time. It was questioned whether the government had too much of a hand in what is going on in the government or was it a bridge to sustainability. During this time the Bush administration tried enticing industries with incentives to reduce carbon emissions. The incentives were successful in some ways, such as going green can reduce production cost and increase profits. I believe the third and fourth eras really began to set clear boundaries and goals for the nation to follow and truly make a different.
    Lastly is the fifth era which is planning for sustainability and the global environment. As previously mentioned, we wouldn’t be in today’s situation without the previous four eras. Alimony everything in the world has been altered by humans in some way. Therefore, pure nature ceases to exist. Human intervention has created problems that don’t have solutions. As urban areas increase in population and density, it is important to design safe, healthy, and attractive places for people to live,work, and play. As environmental problems grow along with urban areas, it is dire to address environmental problems that do not seem to be implemented or addressed by the federal government.
    Again, the decisions those made before us have impacted our lives. We now have to work with what was given to us and strive to do something better. Not only is it important to create designs that are beautiful, functional, and resilient, but to also be involved in the legislative side. The readings have shown evidence of how laws and acts can influence how was design. John Muir and Gifford Pinchot had ideas on how to protect the natural land. While they had some differences they still had a better interest than others. John Muir believes in preserving the natural environment we have while using little to no intervention. Gifford Pinchot believed that natural resources should be managed and used wisely by humans. I would like to think as humans we are wise and learn from our mistakes, but that is not the case. At this point in time I would side with John Muir and work to preserve the land we have. The environment has designed itself before humans where here and did it in a way that it sustained itself. These natural systems are more complex than people can imagine and they deserve to be studied and left to run their course. These systems are typically degrading while humans are intervening and it’s only recently that we are trying to fix what we messed with. If we would listen to what the land and nature is telling us, we could/should have been more successful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I liked that you see all the eras connected, and the we are learning from the past. And the collective experience we have been through shaped the status where we are now. As you indicated, without all these eras (with their successes and failures) we were not be where we are right now.


  4. After thinking about the readings and the lecture, it is clear that history has impacted the environment we live in today. Some of those eras throughout history moved us forward in time while some have slowed our progress down. The first era, I believe moved us forward for its time. During the progressive era, people like William Kent and “Capability” Brown were focused on bringing the beauty of landscape into focus. Opening the door to the ideas of environmental planning was a crucial step in time that began to introduce people to their environments around them. Then when the industrial age arrived in the 19th century, cities were expanding, immigrants were overcrowding the northeast, and public space was nearly non-existent. The role of environmental planning came into play to implement public spaces that can serve large neighborhoods or cities which integrated landscapes into the city as well as increased the awareness for public health and mingling of social classes. Olmsted and Ebenezer Howard were both huge influencers during this time.
    Following the industrial era, the 20th century brought new ideas to the world of environmental planning. Instead of focusing on the aesthetic and public aspects of the city landscape, the focus shifted to environmental assessment. Preservation, advocated by John Muir, and conservation, by Gifford Pinchot, in combination with the previous advances in environmental planning became the determining factors on how the landscape was treated. Government influence also played a role during this time by creating important agencies advocating for conversation and preservation but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. Much like today, business and economic factors determined priorities for the land and sprawl began as people wanted to get away from the dirty city.
    In the third era, World War II caused the “environmental issues to take a back seat to international conflicts” (Daniels, 184). Because of the neglect, pollution within the environment became a real problem and it soon was apparent that the combination of environmental issues, economic growth, public health, and landscape beauty can all work together to form a great quality of life. Overall, this would be the birth and the beginning of modern environmental planning.
    Next,the fourth era, was an era of fallback. Many political regulations created by Reagan and Bush administrations “retarded environmental progress” (Daniels, 186). Business interests overpowered environmental issues so environmental planners began giving incentives to encourage positive environmental resolutions. They knew that change needed to happen and with the new expansion of the internet, green infrastructure and sustainability became new options for advancing environmental change.
    Lastly, the fifth era is all about expanding the ideas of sustainability and the era we are currently living. This era truly combines the social, ecological, business, and incentive aspects of sustainability. As the beginning of the 21st century started planners have taken the opportunity to become leaders in development realizing the change that needs to happen for issues such as sprawl, pollution, climate change, governmental influence, and that people MUST adopt Aldo Leopold’s land ethic.

    Out of these five eras, I feel that the first era, which introduced the whole idea of environmental planning and the fifth era, the one we are currently living within, are the most influential in time. I feel that the first era revealed the necessity to make spaces that are created for the people, give a sense of place, access to public health, and are aesthetically pleasing. In my opinion, these have been and will always be in the foundational principles to landscape/environmental planning because it is the people we will always need to accommodate whether it is the public, a client, a donor, or a government official. Secondly, the idea of creating accessible public space for any time of day, in a central space of the city, and for all social classes to interact will, at the end of the day, always be a goal for green space within urban cities. The fifth era, has so much potential for landscape architects to step into the role of political officials who are “suppose to be in charge” of the environmental change. We are at a time in history, that it is time to utilize all of the tools, people, software, and knowledge of the past and apply them to the future in order to make an impact. Obviously, we cannot return the environment to its original state but like John Muir, I agree with the idea of letting natural change happen overtime. If we can put creative problem solvers like landscape architects and planners paired with development or government presence, then there can be an alternative route to many environmental challenges. People are moving back to cities due to costs and efficiencies of life so we need to take advantage of that time now, create better infrastructure, design greenspace within the cities, and repair social spaces so that encroachment into protected areas can be controlled and we can preserve the natural environments we have left.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like that you see the value that Era (1) and Era (5) brought. Also remember that the “Tools” you suggest we should use is developed in between these tow eras 😀 thanks for a thorough reflections.


  5. I agree with John Muir, because the beauty of the landscape should be preserved. Preserving the landscape will protect animal habitats and the original environmental conditions to allow people to escape the built environment and see the world before humans negatively impacted it. If the land continues to be developed, what is the stopping point? The human population is going to continue to grow and we will continue to occupy more land for our own needs. There needs to be “untouched” land to ensure that animals have a space to live and natural process continue to take place. The short video “Man”, that we watched in class, was an accurate description of what has been occurring in our world over the last 500,000 years.
    Humans have had a track record of destroying things for their own purpose to show dominance. The video indicated people showing no remorse for their negative actions. They continued to kill animals, pollute water resources, test on animals, develop infrastructure, and more. The world is just as much ours as it is to other organisms and ecosystems. We shouldn’t be able to take away their habitats and lives because we believe we are more important.
    Although, not every human is like that. There are people who care about the environment and dream of visiting natural landscapes for pleasure. I don’t believe that this precious land should be destroyed because some people who care less about the environment say so. There is already many square miles of space that we can redevelop for new demands. Preservation of natural landscapes is important because someday, if we continue to develop as we have been, there are going to be future generations looking back in books, forever wandering what it would be like to visit these beautiful places. It is not the job of the present generation to take these experiences away from people in the future. There are already present issues of people not getting enough contact with nature. It is important to our health and well-being.
    As humans we are dependent on nature, even if people don’t understand it. Our food sources, our homes, lifestyles and more are all integrated within nature. Every ounce of harm we do it, we are inevitably doing to ourselves.
    I feel as if the mindset the Muir stood for is becoming more prominent as knowledge on natural resources, the importance of nature, and the population continues to grow. The reading “A Trail Across Time” talks about the steps that have been taken in previous years and even though we still have a long way to go to improve our practices having awareness, ideas and knowledge is a start. This is where the role of landscape architects becomes more important. They spread the idea of conservation and use their skills to re-envision to future to find solutions to revitalize the landscape to create good spaces that are beneficial to all communities. We have to ability to use our knowledge of design, natural resources/processes, ecology, and physiography to form more environmentally friendly designs and reverse some of the negative impacts that we have imposed on nature. Therefore, I feel it is important to preserve what we haven’t touched and fix what we have.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good Analysis. And liked your closing statement:
      “…. I feel it is important to preserve what we haven’t touched and fix what we have”


  6. As landscape architects, we rely heavily on history so that we can effectively analyze the current situation in our communities and plan for the future. Each era is unique in its influence and many are difficult to single out because they all connect to each other and have a heavy influence on the next. Because of this, I believe the Industrial Revolution is the first and foremost milestone on the road toward where we are today and where we might be moving towards. The new era of industry, with the rise of a newly defined working class and highly efficient manufacturing, came with many consequences of a new culture and society. The rapid urbanization meant that many cities began to experience massive crowding and pollution issues. People suffered from major health concerns from working in harsh working environments and even worse living conditions. This sparked many changes to how cities function and they began providing for the citizens and workers rather than focusing solely on production. While the industrial revolution sparked a change in how our society functions economically and socially, it was also a major catalyst for how we think ecologically. People became more aware of the need for vegetation, public space, and environmental regulation especially in these new urban environments. This era of environmental neglect shows how it can affect both our society and natural ecosystems, and we need to understand it’s importance to prevent further damage at a similar scale. The use of “parkways” and city large city parks brought efficiency to the cities while also creating a better environment for people to live in. Although these solutions were somewhat impractical, they served as a precedent for how we can think differently about our cities and how they relate to the surrounding environment.

    The post-environmental sustainability era is equally important as we are beginning to realize the details and complexity of these problems and the inevitable issues with our solutions. The ability to fully sustain each factor of our society in conjunction with our environment is nearly impossible with just one solution. The problems are complex, and the balance is different across the globe. A solution created by one society might not be efficient anywhere else in the world. Solutions for each of these social, economic, and ecological issues vary just as much as the people making them. In recent history, our American government has decided to retract from the Paris Agreement, which so many other countries have pledged to uphold for the sake of our environment and the survival of our planet for future generations. The only reason I can see for this action is for our government to focus on upholding our own society’s economic and social well-being rather than trying to uphold the rest of the “sustainable triangle”. While this could provide sustainability for our society for a while economically, decisions like this will most likely have long term effects on the ecology of the world for future generations. While this example is on a much larger scale, we can still learn from this event as a mindset of thinking that needs to be improved. The post-environmental sustainability era has come from a long history of redeveloping how we think about our relationship with the environment and is created by our realization that the term sustainability is much more complex and difficult to achieve. I feel that this change of practice is just as important as the Industrial Revolution as it is the start of future eras that will make more progress as we begin to explore the complexity of our situation. We need to look at our cities not as something that needs to be counteracted by nature through preservation, but as a resource that is rapidly dwindling. Not only is nature a resource for us but it is a vastly important resource that we still need to preserve and organize well. Preservation is difficult because there is nothing we haven’t already had some effect on in this world. This era of post-environmental sustainability might be a step towards this idea that nature needs to be thought of differently if we want it to protect it more efficiently.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. The main milestones discussed throughout the different eras are separated by advancements in technology, policy, and thinking regarding the environment. The earliest milestones is characterized by understanding the necessity of nature as a tool of survival, and evolving into formalized garden and parks that emphasized the pre-industrial era of European outdoor space. When I think about the use of nature gardens and designed purpose and uses, I think back to the American colonial gardens that I think were also prominent in this era, but not evolving like the ones across Europe. Prominent figures like Capability Brown and William Kent and their work in England provided inspiration for early and influential American work and provided an important precedent for expanding and scenic landscapes. The second era is categorized and centered around and evolvement of technology and deterioration of the cities with the Industrial Revolution. The era was a key milestone in fulfilling the demand and need for public parks and park systems as demonstrated by Central Park and The Boston park network, aided by the designs of Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. and Calvert Vaux. Transportation was also impacted with the growth and development of the railway and mass highway system as instituted by President Dwight Eisenhower. This was an important influencer of existing urban form and changed the distribution of population from city centers to surrounding suburbs. The next era was surrounded by the incorporation of ecology and in planning and beginning of environmental policy of protection (NEPA, 1969). Technology like GIS mapping, created by Warren Henry Manning, and categorization of park typologies help to analyze planning and environmental strategies to a greater extent. The next era continued on the ideas and policies proposed previously, and contained more involvement from professional landscape architect in legislation and working with GIS. Prominent figures of the time include legendary planner and writer Ian McHarg and Lady Bird Johnson, who tackled combining aesthetics to the health and safety aspects of NEPA from the previous era. Finally, the last era of significance is that of the movement of sustainability and environmental issues coming to the forefront and continuing to be developed with advancements into modern technology. The goal of combined social equity, economic growth and importance of ecology was placed at the forefront, but deemed more recently as an insufficient notion of the Millenium Development Goals. The new era identified by the Sustainable Development Goals, demonstrates a new global direction to address change and development of cities. Of these, I feel that the most significant milestones are the Industrial Revolution and introduction of sustainable practices in the modern era. Regarding the advancement and preservation of green space, I feel like in America (and probably globally) this was one of the most important and influential times for the advancement of landscape architecture. Not only did this era defined the future of urban forms and shape the cities that we see today, but it create an important platform of using green space to better health and social connections within cities. Secondly, I feel like the era around sustainability is important because it was one of the first times we see a more global outlook and approach to solving complex environmental problems. While the idea of sustainability may be flawed, I think the ideas behind it will be the driving force behind planning and design decisions in the future, and I think that the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals are a good start. After agonizing for the thoughts of Pinchot and Muir for the past 24 hours, I think that my views align slightly more with Pinchot. This pains me to say, because I absolutely love John Muir. My bedroom wall was covered in postcards of John Muir quotes from Yosemite and he was all I could talk about when I visited with my parents last summer. I am an immense proponent of National Parks and preservation of our nature’s most beautiful and inspiring areas. But it’s hard to justify protect one area so much more than another, when different areas will have meaning important ecological factors to different people, animals and habitats. I’m all on board for a romanticized version of life, growth and expansion alongside nature, but in real life, and in order to save nature, I think we’ll have to align with a conservationist point of view and set up concrete boundaries to ensure its protection.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Through out history people have tended to try and dominate their environment, without having much concern for how it would affect the environment. During the 18th century people really began to start appreciating nature in various artforms. They also began the practices of gardening and landscaping on larger scales. This was a period of observing the land and trying to create new landscapes that would attract people.
    As cities expanded in the 19th century they began to deteriorate, and people demeaned public space, that was accessible to all types people. Central was the first effort to solve these problems, it was so successful that other mammoth parks began popping up in cities around the US. But after some observation it became clear that although these parks are very large in size they still only reach the people that live in close proximity to them. In order to create more accessible public space cities started to implement park networks that included several parks through out the city. These parks lacked a since of connectivity, so parkways were implemented to connect the parks with a green network. These parkways eventually evolved into the highway.
    The development of railways had a drastic impact on the way that people lived. The improved rail system gave people an opportunity to work in the city without having to live in the city. The more well off citizens started moving to the suburbs to get away from the city which had gained the reputation as dangerous, smelly, crowded, and rundown. The development of the railroad also brought more people from rural communities into the city to work, which meant that people were producing more waist in factories, while at the same time spreading out and taking up more land. Some concerned citizens began to be concerned by this rapid expansion with no concern for the environment. Gifford Pinchot and John Muri were two leaders in these movements with differing points of view. Pinchot was a conservationist who thought that it was okay for people to continue to build out as long as we carefully thought about how we were doing it and avoided damage to the environment as much as possible. Muri on the other hand believed that we needed to set aside parts of the land to be conserved so that we do not disturb the ecosystems of those palaces at all. Which means that we would have to live within the confines that we decide.
    Between 1920 and 1970 more and more people started to realize that the environment was important to the survival of the human race. People began to incorporate ecology into their planning. But some things did not change, the highway system continued to expand encouraged more people to move into the suburbs. Which people thought was a success because cities and metropolitan areas were growing, but it was very bad for the environment.
    Warren Henry Manning started layering drawings to look at the different aspects of a project. This was the early beginnings of what has become a very powerful tool known as GIS.
    Economic progress and public became associated with the environment, which meant that environmental mitigation became an essential part of most designs. Professional landscape architects began to get involved in larger projects to help ensure ecological integrity. Ian McHarg’s work refining GIS helped to push the environmental movement forward.
    A sustainability triangle was developed with the three main points being, Equity, Ecology, and Economy. It became clear that it really is not possible to make something that fully meets all the three requirements. This becomes especially difficult when clients, authorities, and bureaucracies all put their opinions in the mix.

    Pinchot or Muri
    Although it may be a more challenging way to deal with the problems because it means that we have to have some self-control, I believe that John Muri’s preservationist mindset is better. If we do not preserve some natural areas, we will destroy whole ecosystems and the flora and fauna that exist within those ecosystems. Preserving certain natural areas will also help to offset the negative practices that are going on in the world. However, leaving these areas natural is not enough to solve all of the ecological problems, because the environment is all linked together. So even though there will be larger areas of preserved nature that does not mean other development can be ecologically irresponsible.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Environmental and landscape planning and development has gone through various eras to reach where it is today. Among these eras, the industrial revolution (the first era), in my opinion, is a focal point in the history of landscape planning and hence one of the most important eras. The phase prior to industrialization saw the importance of nature and designed landscapes to fit the human purpose in terms of aesthetics and innovation. The 19th century industrialization changed the socio-economic position of the American people, and handed them immense power through the ability to manufacture goods. This has been portrayed in the mordantly revelatory video ‘MAN’ by Steve Cutts, where human progress has been depicted by a man who keeps moving forward, heedlessly destroying everything in his path and reveling in mass production, until he is the ruler of a wasteland. The industrial revolution saw America shift from a predominantly agrarian society to an urbanized, industrial one, but also brought environmental deterioration and poor living conditions to the low-income societies. As a response, parks, playgrounds and urban design and planning strategies, such as the garden cities of Ebenezer Howard and the City Beautiful Movement, were introduced to bring back nature and order into the chaotic and deteriorating industrial society. I think a major milestone in this era was the introduction of the railway system, leading to decentralization of elite population from the main city core to suburbs. This lead to problems such as the extensive use of automobiles, the degradation of the natural environment for settlement, and homogeneity in the social and economic make of the suburban population, all of which are still existent today.

    This era also saw two seemingly diverging theories on environmental protection come into play: John Muir’s theory of preservation, which stated that wilderness should preserved in its pristine state, and Gifford Pinchot’s notion of conservation of natural resources for sustained human benefit. Although I appreciate the sentiment of John Muir and the Sierra Club, I think it is too idealistic of a belief to live by. John Dixon Hunt, in his essay ‘Reading and Writing the Site’ (1992), talks about the different degrees of nature: first nature is described as the purest form of nature or ‘wilderness’ uninfluenced by humans; first nature turns into second nature with any physical or mental intervention; third nature occurs when nature is deliberately shaped by incorporating functions of use and aesthetics. I think John Muir believed in preserving first nature. But does first nature exist anymore? I am slightly more inclined to the concept of conservation because it acknowledges the dynamism of nature and of the human population, and tries to work out solutions that benefit both. Landscape planning must involve “action with foresight” (Steinitz 2008). Natural resources are being used for human benefit and will continue to be depleted by the growing population unless the world is engulfed by a natural disaster, or climate change (or some mad scientist takes it upon himself to make half of the world sterile, as pictured in the captivating book ‘Inferno’ by Dan Brown). So it is wise to effectively induce planned management of natural resources, which makes them available to people for recreation, scientific investigations and other harmless practices, but also conserves them for future use by both biodiversity and mankind.

    An outcome of industrialization was the advent of ecological planning in the 20th century (2nd era), which involved the integration of natural habitat in planning. Systematic environmental planning processes were introduced to respond to growing urbanization, and acts such as the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) sought to integrate environmental values into development. In the late 20th century, modern environmental planning (3rd era) was born and the government took up an active role in the cleanup of the environment. Environmental agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and acts such as the Clean Air Act (1970) and the Safe Drinking Water Act (1974) were introduced. In the fourth era, economic development outweighed environmental regulation. Financial incentives were given to companies for reducing emissions and conserving energy, but the administrators were unable to improve on mass transit, renewable energy sources or managing suburban sprawl. The fifth era, or the sustainability phase, was another one of the most important eras in my opinion. This era looked at sustainability as a goal. Landscape Urbanism was a major milestone in this era. Landscape Urbanism rejected the binary distinction between landscape and city, and encouraged the design of ecological infrastructure, using landscapes as organizing elements of public space. Another important, but somewhat differing notion was New Urbanism, which encouraged mixed use, pedestrian friendly, transit-oriented, livable communities. These milestones are important because they constitute a part of urban ecological planning and have shaped progressive cities in the US such as Chicago and Chattanooga.

    As landscape architects, we must be creative, but also clear thinkers because what we do has the power to shape the lives of so many people, which is evident in the previously discussed accounts of the past. We must learn from the mistakes of our predecessors, and utilize our understanding of ecology and culture, and our skills of design, visualization and implementation to create better places.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. References
    Brown, Dan. 2013. Inferno. Doubleday.
    Daniels, Thomas L. 2009. A Trail Across Time: American Environmental Planning from City Beautiful to Sustainability. Journal of the American Planning Association.
    Cutts, Steve. 2012. MAN.
    Hunt, John Dixon. 2002. “Reading and Writing the Site.” In Theory in Landscape Architecture, by Simon Swaffield, 131-135. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
    Steinitz, Carl. 2008. Landscape planning, a history of Influential ideas. Journal of Landscape Architecture., 3(1), 74–83.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Identified milestones discussed through the different eras:
    The major milestones throughout the different areas started off revolving around the generalized human perception of landscape and the widely appreciated aesthetics associated with that preconception. This stemmed to other veins of beauty and composition that was found in art and the rather informal arrangement of landscape designs. This obsession with the natural world quickly shifted to a general neglect and over saturation of its resources and our reliance on its processes for financial gain. In the pre-industrial revolution, 18th century, there was an overwhelming assumption that nature had a significant importance on our health and well-being and was crucial to our existence as mankind. This ideal began to fade into the background it was revisited in the industrial revolution, 19th century, with Fredrick Law Olmsted’s proposal for Central Park in New York aimed to improve the quality of life and increase access to public space for recreational purposes. Soon the interconnectivity of parks and green spaces within the city wasn’t enough and expanded to the areas between them. At the beginning of the ecological planning era, 1920-1970, informed by the introduction and reliance of vehicles for transportation Parkways and landscapes that were intended to be view at high rates of travel were introduced and soon after value engineered into the modern highways we are familiar with today.

    This lack of effort for maintenance and prolong nature in our life’s brought the environmental migration, 1971-1980. This era focused on the economic gain in relation to public health at its pinnacle, a narrow view of the potential and prolonged necessities our environment provides us with. From 1981-1998 there was a paradigm shift to sustainable development and global environmental issues such things as global warming and other anthropogenic implications. Where more sophisticated countries made leaps and bounds to reverse or lessen the effects we have on our surrounds, leaving less developed countries behind. Lastly, the current era is considered the post environmental sustainability, 1998 to present, where we now have come to terms with the reality we have placed ourselves within. Sustainability is a term that is too inherently vague and holistic in nature, to cause an emotive response of comfort with the future that lies before us. Each of these eras has come and gone in relatively the same nature, were two minorities the decision makers and those who are literate in the topic at hand aren’t cordial but rather at ends. This needs to be something addressed head-on and in a fundamentally sound fashion over multiple generations to be a success. Which has yet to be the cause and likely will not be until the hope of change is to far go and the inevitable is met with more synthetic options of change.

    My two most significant milestones further described:
    I feel the industrial revolution and the sustainable development and global environmental issues eras are the most significant to me of the six represented. The industrial revolution brought the deterioration of cities and a demand for a shared public realm. During that time, we improved the quality of life and equal access to public spaces. This was when Fredrick Law Olmsted, the father of modern-day landscape architecture, was at the height of his carrier and implementing his plans for Central Park in New York City. He was impactful for not only his astounding landscape designs that were reminiscent of nature to the point of indistinguishability but that he was a social reformer and used his projects to tell a larger story. During this time the public needs to be changed from the case by case interventions of single parks in a community and cultural centers to that of interconnected parkways at a city or even regional scale. The governmental and decision makers of the time came onboard with the mentality that no matter the size of a single park, it’s insufficient to serve the needs of the public for recreation and passive activities. These lead to the incorporation of the parkways an ecological corridor tailored to a high-speed viewing of automobiles.

    The early ‘80’s to late 90’s is to have sustainability and global environmental issues became the pinnacle of concern by the government and global organizations. Its goal through is to recognize the direct relationship between the global and local scales impact on the environment isn’t being acknowledged by the political leaders, decision-makers or users of public space. There is a global adoption for preventative measures to counteract imitate effects of climate change risks and the increasing trend of natural disasters. In these matters more developed countries where quick to the trigger, leaving the lesser developed countries to the wayside. Other initiatives acknowledged in this era are that of sustainability prior to the modern opinion of the term and its comforting effects of the impending future we have presented ourselves with. The intent is to create systems in which we are meeting the present needs of humanity without compromising those of ability of future generations to meet their needs. Pushing the 3 E’s of equity, economy, and ecology to increase advocacy for more sustainable land use practices and maintain a fragile balance.
    I as most people, in my opinion, would side with Muir due to his emphasis on the protection of wildlife. He wanted to ensure the American natural landscape for future generations regardless of its economic benefit and chose to focus on the emotive and intangible aspirations he found in the national parks he spent most of his time within.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s