The National Park Service (NPS) and The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) today announced the launch of a new online What’s Out There Cultural Landscapes Guide to Richmond. This is the fourth of five new What’s Out There Cultural Landscapes Guides created in honor of the NPS’ 100th anniversary. The online guide features nearly 60 well-illustrated sites.
TCLF and the NPS Northeast Regional Office have partnered to identify, research, and document a varied collection of landscapes in five northeastern cities: Baltimore, MD, Boston, MA, New York, NY, Philadelphia, PA, and Richmond, VA. Each Guide features at least 50 sites and is customized to provide an accessible digital inventory of selected parks and landscapes, which are searchable by geographic location, type, style, designer, and theme.
Through TCLF’s digital and mobile platforms, the Guides connect new audiences to the nation’s landscape heritage, a goal shared by TCLF and the NPS. Support comes from ABC Worldwide Stone, Bartlett Tree Experts, and Victor Stanley. This collaboration between the NPS and TCLF is increasing the awareness of national parks and affiliated sites in metropolitan areas.
The Guides are an outgrowth of TCLF’s What’s Out There database of North America’s designed landscape legacy. The profusely illustrated and carefully vetted What’s Out There database features more than 2,000 sites in the United States and Canada, 1,000 designer profiles, and 11,000 images. The database is fully optimized for iPhones and similar handheld devices. The database also includes What’s Nearby, a GPS-enabled function that locates all landscapes within a certain distance, customizable by mileage or walking time.
The Cultural Landscapes Guides project is significantly expanding the interactive, graphically rich, user-friendly database, highlighting the diversity, interconnectedness, and significance of national parks and historic sites in urban areas. Advised by NPS and TCLF staff, interns are conducting field work and research in order to develop original documentary essays about the history, design, and current condition of selected sites. The essays, accompanied by contemporary photographs that illustrate the design character of the landscapes, are then added to the What’s Out There database.
The Guides are linked to the database and also include overarching thematic narratives about the history of the NPS in each of the selected cities. Historic photographs and maps, discussions of the various themes highlighted by the research, and a GPS-enabled mobile interface make this material relevant and accessible to a variety of users. Additionally, as a digital medium, the Guides are expanded as new landscapes are researched and added to the database.
This Guide, along with those already produced for Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia, is a direct outgrowth of The Urban Agenda, an initiative developed as part of the celebration of the NPS Centennial in 2016. A Baltimore Guide will appear later in 2018.
While some of the landscapes in the Guide are national park units, others connect to the NPS through the agency’s partnership programs. These include National Historic Landmarks, National Natural Landmarks, National Heritage Areas, Land and Water Conservation Fund Sites, National Parks, and National Register of Historic Places landscapes.