The enjoyment of the choicest natural scenes in the country and the means of recreation connected within his off a monopoly, innovate peculiar manner, a very few, very rich people. The great mass of society, including those to whom to be of the greatest benefit, is excluded from it. In the nature of the case by the Parks can never be used by the mass of the people in any country nor by any considerable number even of the rich, except by the favor of a few, and in dependence on them.
Thus without means are taken by government to withhold them from the graph of individuals, all places favorable in scenery to the recreation of the mind and body will be closed against degree body of the people. For the same reason that the water of rivers should be guarded against private appropriation and the use of it for the purpose of navigation and otherwise protected against obstructions, portions of natural scenery we therefore properly be guarded and cared for by the government. To simply reserve them for monopoly by individuals, however, it will be obvious, is not all that is necessary.Is necessary that they should be laid open to the use of the body of the people.
The establishment by government of great public ground for the free enjoyment of the people under certain circumstances, is thus justified enforced by the public duty.
Fredrick Law Olmsted (Preliminary Report Upon the Yosemite and Big Tree Grove, August, 1865)
Suppose that you had been commissioned to build a really grand opera house; that after the construction work had been nearly completed and your scheme of decoration fully designed, you should be instructed that the building was to be used on Sundays as a Baptist Tabernacle, and that a suitable place must be found for a huge organ, a pulpit, and a dipping pool. Then at intervals afterwards, you should be advised that it must be so refitted that parts of it could be used for a court room, a jail, a concert hall, hotel, skating rink, for surgical cliniques, for a circus, dog show, ball room, railway station and shot tower? What chance would you see for making a fine affair, in any respect, of your building? This is what is nearly always going on with public parks . . . It is a matter of chronic anger with me.
Fredrick Law Olmsted (Letter to Architect Henry Van Brunt, January 22nd, 1891)
“Gentlemen, why in heaven’s name this haste? You have time enough. No enemy threatens you. No volcano will rise from beneath you. Ages and ages lie before you. Why sacrifice the present to the future, fancying that you will be happier when your fields teem with wealth and your cities with people? In Europe we have cities wealthier and more populous than yours, and we are not happy. You dream of your posterity; but your posterity will look back to yours as the golden age, and envy those who first burst into this silent splendid nature, who first lifted up their axes upon these tall trees and lined these waters with busy wharves. Why, then, seek to complete in a few decades what the other nations of the world took thousands of years over in the older continents? Why do things rudely and ill which need to be done well, seeing that the welfare of your descendants may turn upon them? Why, in your hurry to subdue and utilize nature, squander her splendid gifts? Why allow the noxious weeds of Eastern politics to take root in your new soil, when by a little effort you might keep it pure? Why hasten the advent of that threatening day when the vacant spaces of the continent shall all have been filled, and the poverty or discontent of the older states shall find no outlet? You have opportunities such as mankind has never had before, and may never have again. Your work is great and noble: it is done for a future longer and vaster than our conceptions can embrace. Why not make its outlines and beginnings worthy of these destinies the thought of which gilds your hopes and elevates your purposes?”
James Byrce, British Academic, from "American Commonwealth: The Temper of the West"