National Park Roads: Reconciling the Machine and the Garden

posted Jan 22, 2017, 11:10 AM by Bill Marzella
Lecture by Timothy Davis, PhD
Wednesday, February 8, 2017


Millions of visitors tour national parks every year, but few consider when, where, how or why the roads they travel on were built. This presentation highlights the unique qualities of national park roads, relates them to European precedents and the Olmstedian tradition, and examines their role in shaping the national park experience. Not only do park roads determine what most visitors see and how they see it, but decisions about park roads epitomize the central challenge of national park stewardship: balancing preservation and access in America’s most treasured landscapes.

Park roads have been celebrated as technical and aesthetic masterpieces, hailed as democratizing influences, and vilified for invading pristine wilderness with the sights, sounds, and smells of civilization. Based on his recently released book, National Park Roads: A Legacy in the American Landscape, Davis’s recounting of efforts to balance the interests of motorists, wilderness advocates, highway engineers, and other stakeholders offers a fresh perspective on national park history while providing insights into evolving ideas about the role of nature, recreation, and technology in American society.

As the National Park Service’s senior historian for park historic structures and cultural landscapes, Tim Davis combines interdisciplinary research with preservation outreach. His writings on the American landscape have appeared in numerous books and journals. His newly released volume, National Park Roads: A Legacy in the American Landscape, highlights the unique qualities of national park roads, details their development and examines their role in shaping the national park experience.


The First Congregational United Church of Christ
945 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
6:30 pm – reception, 7:00 pm – lecture


Reservations are not required. $10.00 for Latrobe Chapter members, student members (full time) free with ID, $15.00 for non-members (reduced admission for non-members!).
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Bill Marzella,
Jan 22, 2017, 11:11 AM
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