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Title: "Mission 66" : modernism and the national park dilemma in the United States, 1945-1972
Author: Carr, Ethan
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2006
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"Mission 66" was a National Park Service design and construction program intended to revitalize the American national park system through a ten -year program of capital investment and land acquisition from 1956 to 1966. The built legacy of the Mission 66 program includes over one hundred visitor centres (a building type invented by Mission 66 planners), hundreds of employee residences (based on standardized plans), and innumerable comfort stations, campgrounds, maintenance facilities, road improvements, bridges, entrance stations, and service stations. Most of these buildings were modernist in design inspiration, contrasting with prewar "rustic" park architecture. Utilities and concessioner developments were also built through Mission 66. Park planning emphasized new park units in coastal areas (national seashores), around reservoirs (national recreation areas), and at historic sites (national historical parks). During this period National Park Service staff was enlarged, uniforms were modernized, and the arrowhead logo (devised in 1951) became the ubiquitous symbol of the agency. This thesis attempts 1) to give a thorough historical context for this era of American national park planning and development, 2) to explore research questions relating to assessments of the historical significance of this legacy of buildings and built landscapes, 3) to establish how this period of American landscape architecture influenced and continues to affect the current situation (or "dilemma ") of the American national park system. It is argued that this period of national park design and development was significantly influenced by contemporary trends in American landscape architecture, architecture, and museum ( "visitor centre ") design. It is concluded that national park development of the Mission 66 era (1945 -1972) was the last, comprehensive program of its type and therefore must be understood in order to better assess park planning, design, and management issues today. It is also argued that essential aspects of the visiting public's interaction with national parks and historic sites were reforged during the Mission 66 era, and that an understanding of the Mission 66 era park design therefore also is necessary for a fuller appreciation of the expectations and conceptualizations many park visitors bring with them to national parks today. Literature review and methodology research at the beginning of this project emphasized historical contexts and historical research methodologies and theory. This phase of the project led to the formulation of research questions and methods. Subsequent research involved the use of primary sources (especially the National Archives in College Park, Maryland), site visits (to dozens of parks over a four -year period), oral histories, and quantitative analysis of National Park Service budgets and other statistics. This study was supported in part by a grant from the (U.S.) National Park Service.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available