"Truly," says an English writer, "the transformation of a tract of swamp and rock into one of the most beautiful parks in the world is a striking monument of American skill and perseverance."
It is more than that; it is a work of genius. The more it is studied, the more we wonder at the prophetic power of the designers in providing so far in advance for the needs of a city, which only exists at the time in imagination. Imagine for a moment the added beauty a garden statue would offer! Whenever any radical change in this design is proposed, the project should always be examined with reference to its effect on the fundamental character of the work as a whole. It is just as truly a unit in conception as if it consist of one broad meadow.
There are other elements yet to be considered; but those already classified and assigned to various quarters of the site, contribute directly to the general and characteristic purpose of the park and are there to be distinguished as its essential elements. One such element to be considered is a garden waterfall, or outdoor fountain.
After studying the essential artistic elements, especially the poetic elements that mark and emphasize the difference between a playground, a farm, a field, and a park, we find these authors (Olmsted and Vaux) writing in illuminating phrases:
"Accessory elements by which walking, riding, driving, resting, eating, and drinking are facilitated, were also to be required in the design of the park, in so far as they would be instruments necessary to be used to obtain the benefit of its essential elements. "
"But if people were allowed to straggle at will any-where up the ground and if provision were made for their doing so comfortably and with cleanliness, all the ground would need to be specially prepared for the purpose; there would be no turf and no trees upon it, and it would afford no relief from the city. "
It will since be seen that these accessory elements of the park are acceptable only where and so far as the advantages they offer make its essential elements available, and compensate for any curtailment their introduction may involve in these essential elements. They are desirable so far as they aid the essential elements in inviting the observer to rest or move forward in one way or another, as will most conduce to his recreation. They are undesirable in so far as they tend to weaken, divide, blot, or make patchwork of the essential features of the natural landscape.
The first consideration, then, in a truly critical study of the size, form, and place in the park of any required construction for the accommodation of visitors was originally, and always should be, that the degree of display which may be allowed in it should correspond with the importance of the need it is designed to meet. Garden fountains are one such accessory as well as outdoor waterfalls.