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Moral order, language and the failure of the 1930 recreation plan for Los Angeles county

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Abstract:

In the autumn of 1927, a Citizens' Committee of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce hired the Olmsted Brothers and Bartholomew and Associates firms to produce a plan for improving the county's parks, playgrounds and beaches. Bold, comprehensive, and over two years in preparation, their 1930 proposal was environmentally determinist at its core, promising an ideal social order in the region after the creation of sufficient recreational spaces. The Committee and their consultants, however, were largely unsuccessful and most of their proposals languished for two reasons. First, the plan suffered diminished public support by neglecting half the traditional justifications for parks. It emphasized the material benefits of parks but disregarded their impact on public behaviour. Second, the plan's mode of presentation was inappropriately technocratic for its audience, emphasizing the rationality and calculation of planning science over the emotional attraction and beauty of landscape art. The latter would have been more fitting because the plan was aimed at an inexpert public rather than a professional planning department.

Document Type: Regular Paper

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02665430110066866

Publication date: 2001-10-01

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