The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) was created in 2000 as a federal program to document historic landscapes in the United States and its territories. Documentation is critical to preserving these significant sites for the benefit of future generations. Like its companion programs, the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), HALS produces written and graphic records used by educators, land managers, and preservation planners as well as the general public. The National Park Service (NPS) administers the planning and operation of HALS, standardizes formats and develops guidelines for recording landscapes, and catalogs and/or publishes the information when appropriate (www.nps.gov/history/hdp/hals). The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) provides professional guidance and technical advice for the program through its Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network (www.asla.org/HALS.aspx?id=10088). The Library of Congress (LOC) accepts and preserves HALS documents, furnishes reproductions of material, and makes records available to the public (www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/hh/).
Progress has been made in identifying cultural landscapes during the past decade, but much more work is needed to document these designed and vernacular places. For the tenth anniversary of HALS, Chris Pattillo, one of three founders of the Northern California Chapter of HALS and founder of PGAdesign, issued a national Theme Park Challenge – a HALS initiative to document the landscapes of childhood. Landscape architecture preservation enthusiasts from every state were encouraged to complete at least one HALS short format history for a historic theme park landscape. Competition entries were due to the NPS HALS office by July 31, 2010.
This challenge resulted in many new donations to the HALS collection while conjuring fond childhood memories of amusement parks around the nation. Generously sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, cash prizes were awarded to the top three submissions. Results were announced at the Washington, DC September 2010 ASLA Annual Meeting and Expo. Congratulations to the winners!
1st Place: Glen Echo Park, Glen Echo, MD by Virginia Tech Team - Nicholas Colombo, Seth Estep, Luke Van Belleghem, and Professor Paul Kelsch
2nd Place: Enchanted Forest, Turner, OR by Cathleen Corlett and Jean Senechal Biggs
3rd Place: Sonoma Traintown Railroad, Sonoma, CA by Janet Gracyk
The HALS office is continuing the challenge again in 2011 with a new theme, Celebrating Cultural Landscapes of Diversity - a HALS initiative to document historic landscapes that reflect ethnic heritage. Landscape architecture preservation enthusiasts from every state are hereby challenged to complete at least one HALS short format history to increase awareness of the role of various cultural groups in shaping the American landscape. The diversityof American landscapes reflects the diversity of our people. Campuses, cemeteries, gardens, neighborhoods, parks, plazas, ranches, villages, etc. all can represent a unique cultural landscape identity. Short format histories should be submitted to HALS at the National Park Service no later than July 31, 2011 (c/o Paul Dolinsky, Chief of HALS, 202-354-2116, Paul_Dolinsky@nps.gov). HALS Histories guidelines, Guide to Identifying and Documenting HALS Sites brochure and HALS Short Format History Template may be downloaded from the following websites:
Sponsored by HALS, cash prizes will be awarded to the top three submissions. Results will be announced at the San Diego, CA October 2011 ASLA Annual Meeting and Expo during the HALS Subcommittee Meeting of the Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network. Good luck and thank you for helping to preserve American landscapes!