American Landscape and Architectural Design 1850-1920

Glacier National Park, 1925
by M. S. Sager

In considering the question of our national parks The American Society of Landscape Architects has principally before it these two problems: first the conservation of the primeval landscape beauty of the National Park areas unimpaired for generations to come, and second, the increasing of the public facilities for the enjoyment of this beauty. (1. Pray, p.119)

Landscape architects did not only concern themselves with the design and creation of parks and public spaces. An additional responsibility of their profession was the preservation of natural landscapes. In 1916, when congress was voting on legislation to create the National Park Service, the American Society of Landscape Architects held a conference to discuss the state of the National Parks and to define their role in the preservation of America’s natural scenery. According to the chairman of the School of Landscape Architecture at Harvard, James Sturgis Pray, the function of the Landscape Architect was to advise the park service on how to achieve enjoyment "for the maximum number of people with the minimum number of injury to the landscape beauty." He called for the Park Service Landscape Architect to accomplish four goals:

First, a careful determination of proper boundaries of the National Park, not arbitrary, as those at present; but in consonance with the topography and with landscape unity; second, the development of comprehensive general plans for every National Park and Monument, showing roads, bridge, trails, buildings, etc., so far as these may be needed, and at the same time can be built without injury to the landscape, and the adoption of a definite policy of development; third the approval of designs for buildings or other special structures; fourth, prescribing a system of intelligent and scrupulous maintenance having particular regard for the protection of the beauty of the landscape. (2. Pray, p.119-120)

In 1925 M. S. Sager photographed his trip to Montana’s Glacier National Park. He documented the natural landscape as well as the activities of the visitors and the structures around the nature reserve. When he returned he donated his photographs to the School of Landscape Design. The photographs are relevant for the teaching collection as they display the beauty of the environment, as well as showing concern for the way tourists used the park and its facilities.


Bibliography for Glacier Park

Holtz, Mathilde Edith and Katherine Isabel Beinis. Glacier National Park : Its Trails and Treasures. New York: George H. Doran Company, 1917.

Glacier National Park: Season June 15th - September 15th, 1925.   Minneapolis: Great Northern Railways, 1925.

Glacier National Park: Season June 15th - September 15th, 1926.   Circular Number 30-26. Minneapolis: Great Northern Railways, 1926.

McFarland, Horace J. Letter to James Sturgis Pray. "Our National Parks". Landscape Architecture (January 1915, vol. V, no. 2) 148-150.

Olmsted, Frederick Law Jr. "Vacation in the National Parks and Forests." Landscape Architecture (January 1922, vol. XI, no. 2) 107-111.

Pray, James Sturgis. "The American Society of Landscape Architects and our National Parks." Landscape Architecture (April 1916, vol. VI, no. 3). [1, 2]


M.S. Sager in front of a mountain
descriptive record icon enlarge image icon M. S. Sager with Sun Mountain in the distance, 1925

A mountain trail
descriptive record icon enlarge image icon Piagan Trail, 1925

A goat on a mountain
descriptive record icon enlarge image icon Half-grown Rocky Mountain Goat, 1925

A horse going over a mountain pass
descriptive record icon enlarge image icon Gunright Pass, 1925

A black bear in the woods
descriptive record icon enlarge image icon Black Bear, 1925

A lake with mountains behind it
descriptive record icon enlarge image icon Iceberg Lake, 1925

People walking across a glacier
descriptive record icon enlarge image icon Grinnell Glacier, 1925

Wildflowers on the side of a mountain
descriptive record icon enlarge image icon Wildflowers on Piagan, 1925

People climbing on a glacier
descriptive record icon enlarge image icon Climbing on Grinnell Glacier, 1925