AKA: City of San Diego, Park and Recreation Department, Balboa, Park, San Diego, CA

Structure Type: landscapes - parks - urban parks

Designers: Sessions, Kate O., Landscape Designer (firm); Kate Olivia Sessions (landscape designer)

Dates: constructed 1868

San Diego, CA

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CA Quadrangle 41

The City of San Diego's Board of Trustees set aside 1400 acres in 05/26/1868, creating one of the nation's largest urban parks. It initially was known as "City Park." In 1892, the important local landscape designer, Kate O. Sessions, arranged with the city to use 32 acres in the northwest corner of City Park as her nursery; in exchange, she agreed to plant 100 trees per year on park grounds, and 300 other trees around the city. With the rapid growth of San Diego after completion of rail links to the city in the 1880s, the city began to reconsider City Park. In 1902, a Park Improvement Committee formed with a mission to upgrade its conditions; a 1905 tax levy passed to fund the renovation project. They hired Samuel Parsons, a landscape designer, to create a masterplan. By 1910, the park had begun to resemble its current, "civilized" state. Two large-scale expositions were held in 1915-1916, the Panama-California International Exposition, and in 1935-1936, the California Pacific International Exposition. In 1911, the well-known, Boston landscape architect, John Charles Olmsted, was involved in the planning process of the Panama-California Exposition. Due to disagreements over siting, he resigned from the job on 09/02/1911.

Balboa Park contained 1,200 acres, gardens, and 15 museums. Many of the museum buildings remained from the 1915-1916 Panama-California World's Fair.

National Register of Historic Places (December 22, 1977): 77000331 NRHP Images (pdf) NHRP Registration Form (pdf)

PCAD id: 7585