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Parks for a Zenith City
Duluth rediscovers its Skyline Parkway.
By Frank Edgerton Martin

In his visionary book, Landscape Architecture as Applied to the Wants of the West, H.W.S. Cleveland argued for a bold new approach to park planning to respond to the character and scale of America's fastest-growing cities in the Midwest. A protégé of Frederick Law Olmsted, Cleveland helped civic leaders in Chicago, Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and Omaha to think of connecting entire metropolitan regions in laying out parks and the boulevards that run between them.

This civic spirit extended to smaller cities too. In places ranging from Madison, Wisconsin, to Bemidji, Minnesota, citizens formed park and boulevard commissions to oversee land acquisition and park planning. Although big-city park systems are increasingly well studied (see Resources), the late 19th-century planning accomplishments of relatively remote boomtowns like Duluth, Minnesota, remain largely unknown.

Across the country, landscape architects played an essential and now largely forgotten role in the development of these smaller park and boulevard systems. A century later, many practitioners are now updating these parkways to meet contemporary recreational needs and to restore the integrity of these historic designed landscapes.

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