Saturday, July 10

Independence Park Charlotte

'The earliest recreation area owned by the City of Charlotte was Independence Park, located just east of Sugar Creek between Elizabeth Avenue and Monroe Road. Fortunately, the city authorities decided to seek professional help in planning the park. They retained a talented, young landscape architect, John Nolen, who was later to achieve renown for his work on Myers Park. Nolen's 1905 design was obviously intended to preserve and enhance the existing features of the lake valley. The quiet informality of his plan retained the rural setting and established a lasting natural landscape. At the eastern end of the park land, where it straddles the earth bridge of Hawthorne Lane, the half mile long, tree shaded valley remains much as it has been for three quarters of a century. Nolen made generous use of planting, and many of the trees he started have matured into magnificent old oaks, poplars and maples interspersed later with flowering shrubs. Footpaths wander through the park, and occasional old granite benches in small, grassy nooks offer havens from the bustle of nearby city streets. In its early years, the lake, and later the park, was bordered by a shoreline road.
This road, now called Park Drive, was paved in the 1920's when many of the dirt streets in Elizabeth were improved. Vertical slabs of Mecklenburg granite bordered most early paved streets. This stone curbing has been replaced with concrete in most city streets; however, portions of Park Drive still retain the picturesque old granite curbing. At the eastern-end, the park is circled by cottages built during the early years of this century. The architectural style is typical of the times and adds much to the charm of the park setting. For its first twenty five years, Independence Park was a rural sanctuary -- a place to rest beside a spring fed brook. As the neighborhood grew, however, playground facilities were added. A grammar school was placed on the side near Elizabeth Avenue. Tennis courts were built on the opposite hillside, and a portion of the valley was filled to create baseball and football fields.'

1 comment:

CPCCsoccer said...

It's feels good to know there is at least one other person in the world who feels a special appreciation for the charms, the history, and ageless beauty of Independence Park. People criticize native Charlotteans-and justifiably so-for allowing so much of their built environment from the past to be demolished. But Independence Park is one sliver of our cityscape that has survived. I was fortunate enough to grow up within three blocks of the park, and memories for every stage of my life are set there. Walking to elementary school through the rose garden, splashing in the wading pool under the watchful eye of my mom, walking to Memorial Stadium to see MP vs. Harding. Today, I am able to enjoy Independence Park for a lunchtime stroll, or a place to mediate. As an employee of nearby CPCC, I supervise the club sports program, sometimes taking the occasion to explain to these students of the special nature of the place that many, I'm sure, regard simply as a "ball field".

Having just discovered your blog, I must thank you not only for the varied and beautiful images you are posting, but for the commentaries that accompany them. Thanks for sharing some of the beauty you see around you, especially that which comes from a corner of the world with which I am so acquanted, and has in my case, been the background-the set-of such a happy life.