"Jock, when ye hae naething else to do, ye may be aye sticking in a tree; it will be growing, Jack, when ye're sleeping."
Sir Walter Scott
Public Parks and Parkways.
Colorado Springs, Colo.
August 3, 1901
Mr. Ehrich has requested me to give, for the "Century Chest," some facts relating to our public parks and parkways, and to forecast in a measure, the conditions in that respect one hundred years hence.
The most useful pieces of public ground we have at the present are Acacia Park and Alamo Square, both of which are in the heart of the town. They are each of the size of an ordinary city block, are shaded by cottonwood trees (a few of other kinds just started), have walks extended through them, and drinking fountains in the center. Upon their grassy surfaces and beneath the shade of the trees are placed seats for the accommodation of those who wish to use them. On summer evenings bands of music entertain the people here. They are much frequented by both residents and tourists. The new County court house is being erected in Alamo Square. This building will occupy a portion of its space, but is not likely to greatly curtail its usefulness as a park.
The Park at Prospect Lake contains seventy-five acres, of which the lake covers an area of say forty acres. Although but slightly embellished, the trees being small, the place gives promise of future beauty and usefulness. As yet, no car line has been extended to it, and the amusement features (bathing, boating, etc.) are somewhat crude.
Willow Park, a tract of twenty acres, lying along Monument Creek, is pretty much in a state of nature. Native trees (mostly narrow-leaf cottonwood) and wild shrubs and vines abound. Up to the present time but little use has been made of this park.
The College Campus, of about twenty acres, has just been graded, grass sown and a few trees planted. It lies in one of the best residence parts of the town, and is likely to be of great use to both college and people. At this writing the Coburn Library and Perkins Memorial Hall are the only buildings on the ground, excepting the small frame structure used for the primary and kindergarten school of Miss Bessie Henry. An excavation for cellar and foundations of the Scientific Building has just been made.
Dorchester Park, near the south end of town, is an uncultivated tract of six acres, with a scattering growth of cottonwood - and weeds galore!
The Antlers Park is quite good of the kind. Has considerable shade, grass, walks, trees, some flowers, and benches (or settees). The city owns seven acres of this ground and the hotel company two acres.
The Boulder Reservoir site, on east Boulder street, cannot in its present state be considered a park. The city owns the ground (some six acres) of which about four acres are covered with water. No trees nor planting of any kind.
North Cheyenne Park is a tract of 640 acres acquired by the city some years ago, largely through the efforts of M.L.DeCoursey, then residing here. The city authorities have extended some little care and protection to the place and constructed a carriage road through it. It is mainly, however, in its natural state, and has much rugged grandeur and beauty, of which in truth it will never be deprived.
From the laying out of the town up to the present time the need for public parks has not seemed pressing. As yet our population is not great, and the surrounding region is so varied and picturesque as to largely satisfy the demand for parks.
A Look Forward
It is reasonable to suppose that by the year 2001 Colorado Springs will possess several large outlying or rural parks. It is to be hoped that ere that time some generous person will have purchased and donated to the city the South Cheyenne Caņon, which, together with the North Cheyenne Caņon, would constitute one of the most wonderful and unique public parks in America.
It is more than likely, too, that Austin Bluffs, and possibly the low hills northward, will have been added to the park system.
Bear Creek Caņon has also many natural attractions, and might well be devoted to park uses.
The Garden of the Gods is also another notable spot which should certainly be utilized for park purposes.
In fact there are many places along the near-by foothills which would be available for additions to the rural or country parks.
Many small parks, or gardens, of one or more acres, should be established within the city limits for the benefit of those living in their vicinity. Along Shook's Run, as it now exists, there are a number of sites well adapted for such use.
At this time Nevada Avenue is "parked" (rows of trees and a strip of grass) along its center through nearly its entire length. Wood Avenue has a similar parking for about two blocks, and steps have been taken to park (more elaborately) six blocks on Cascade Avenue, extending from the College reservation northward.
It was undoubtedly the expectation of the founders of the town that in due course of time all the resident portions of the avenues and wider streets should be parked. We have faith to believe that this good work, fairly begun by ourselves will be fully carried out and improved upon by our successors. Not only would the "dust nuisance" be much abated thereby, but the streets would be greatly improved and beautified.
The Boulevard to Manitou is an instance of a good work fairly projected and partially completed, but which will need the fostering care of later generations. Thus, shrubs and grass should be judiciously introduced along its entire course, at every available point. It may be presumed that this will be done, and that the roadway will also be correspondingly improved.
The Greater Colorado Springs will, in my estimation, include Colorado City, Manitou, Broadmoor, Roswell and other suburbs. When that shall be done, the people may be ready for and able to constitute a metropolitan park system far surpassing my present anticipations.
Edgar T. Ensign
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