August 25th marks the birthday of the National Park Service, which was established on that date in 1916. Over the course of the last 100 plus years, the National Park Service has grown, and now includes over 400 parks, representing America’s vast array of natural wonders and significant historic sites.
The Cartographic Branch holds a number of records related to the National Park Service. Among these holdings is a series of Master Plans for various national parks, monuments, and historic sites. Dating from the 1930s to the early 1940s, these plans have a unique history and important role in park planning and development. This history is highlighted in our previous blog post, Planning America’s Best Idea: Master Plans for National Parks and also in a video created by the National Archives about the plans:
In this post, we are featuring a selection of covers of National Park Service Master Plans, which are the most distinctive part of the Master Plans. The covers are often elaborately decorated, hand colored, and very beautiful. The plans, including the covers, were created by the National Park Service employees of the Branch of Plans and Design. While some of the pages featuring architectural or landscape drawings are signed, the majority of the creators of these plans are unidentified. The beautifully illustrated covers are also unsigned, so the artists of these beautiful works of art unfortunately remain unknown to us today.
We hope you enjoy these covers from some of America’s favorite and some of its less well-known parks!