In the year 1831 Alexis de Tocqueville, a 26-year-old French nobleman with a genius for observation, visited the U.S. In his account, Democracy in America, one of the greatest of travel books, he characterized the citizens and their New World as "that continent [which] still presents, as it did in the primeval time, rivers that rise from never failing sources, green and moist solitudes, and limitless fields which the plowshare of the husbandman has never turned.... The physical position of the country opens so wide a field that man needs only to be let alone to be able to accomplish prodigies.... Such is the admirable position of the New World that man has no other enemy than himself."
In the year 1959, only 128 years after Alexis de Tocqueville's visit to the "primeval continent," a distinguished American, General Omar Bradley, surveyed his native land. "Year after year our scenic treasures are being plundered by what we call an advancing civilization," reported the general. "If we are not careful we shall leave our children a legacy of billion-dollar roads leading nowhere except to other congested places like those they left behind. We are building ourselves an asphalt treadmill and allowing the green areas of our nation to disappear."
And in the year 2000, after a visit to the U.S. (there were 51 states at that time, including the Virgin Islands) under a study grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (there were eight Rockefeller brothers), Bagamsa Dankwa, a 26-year-old candidate for a doctor of philosophy degree from the Free University of Ghana in Africa, wrote in his resulting doctoral thesis, Men of the Concrete Jungle: "Within the past four decades the population of this teeming country has almost doubled. In 1960 there were but 179 million Americans; there are some 325 million today. More than 35 million of these people are over 65, and the life expectancy of the average male citizen is 74, that of his wife 79. The average family income is $15,000 a year, which is double the 1960 figure. The national average work week is 28 hours. There are 220 million cars on American roads."
After a brief discussion of comparative data in Ghana, Dr. Dankwa continued: "To the American his leisure time has become his most treasured and sizable personal asset. His choice of a job and habitation is primarily influenced by where he will find life most pleasant." Here, in one of the many footnotes that annotate his scholarly text, Dr. Dankwa cited a passage from an article entitled Amenities as a Factor in Regional Growth published in 1954 by the American economist Dr. Edward L. Ullman: "For the first time in the world's history, pleasant living conditions—amenities—instead of more narrowly defined economic advantages are becoming the sparks that generate significant population increase.... In spite of the handicaps of remote location and economic isolation, the fastest growing states are California, Arizona and Florida."
March 28, 1960
But in the year 2000 prosperity had become a two-edged sword-pleasant living conditions and the amenities of life were not to be found easily. "Eighty-five percent of the American people live in cities," reported Dr. Dankwa. "Ten great supercities, boasting 5 million or more inhabitants each, dominate the land and shelter one-third of the total population.
"Four of these supermetropolitan areas, New England City, New York Supermetro, Delaware Valley City and Chesapeake and Potomac City (the nation's capital), are located in the Great Atlantic Metro Region, a 450-mile stretch of densely populated coast line known as the Megalopolis," Dr. Dankwa continued. "The Great Lakes Midwest Metro Region boasts three supermetros: Chicago Supermetro, Detroit Supermetro and Cuyahoga Valley City (formerly Lorain, Elyria, Akron and Cleveland). The California Metro Region has become almost as densely settled as the East Coast, with two supermetros which daily creep closer to each other: San Francisco Bay City (incorporating Oakland and San Jose) and Los Angeles Supermetro (San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, Oxnard, Hueneme). The Floridian Region has one supermetro, Southeast Florida City (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach).
"The forecast from the Mid-Southwest Region is that Dallas-Fort Worth City will soon pass the 5 million mark. It now incorporates 4.3 million people. Other important metro areas sheltering 2 million people or more are the metroports of San Diego and Houston. Then there are the industrial metros of Atlanta Metro, the leading metro of the Southeast Region; Buffalo Metro; Pittsburgh Metro; Cincinnati Metro; St. Louis Metro and Milwaukee Metro of the Great Lakes-Midwest Metro Region. Minneapolis-St. Paul City is the great center of the Midwest Region; and Denver Metro, the crux of transcontinental air routes, has outstripped Seattle Metrominor and Portland Metrominor to become the dominant metro of the West.
"Two other areas which have passed the 2 million mark and are still growing," Dr. Dankwa noted, "are the 'leisure metros'—Tampa-St. Petersburg Leisure Metro in the Floridian Leisure Belt, and Phoenix Leisure Metro in the Southwest Region. This uniquely American phenomenon of the leisure metro perhaps needs some amplification.
"The leisure metro is the most extraordinary urban development since man built his first city thousands of years ago. Historically a city has come into being either as a trade settlement adjacent to the mouth of a river, or a bay, or as the 'commercial agent' of a large surrounding area. But Phoenix Leisure Metro, isolated in a desert region with all of the traditional disadvantages to urban growth of inaccessibility, shortage of water and arid land, has a population in the year 2000 which exceeds that of the entire Southwest Region 50 years ago. This is almost entirely due to the leisure opportunities of its natural setting, the 'desert way of life.' Here is to be found the most striking example of new natural resources in leisure-oriented America: sunshine, open space and a dramatic landscape are greater population magnets than coal, oil and industry. The Leisure Metro of Phoenix now overshadows such traditional population centers as Seattle, Spokane and Kansas City."
INTERVIEWS WITH MR. SMITHWICK
Dr. Dankwa's study included a number of field trips. The following passage is from an interview with Albert E. Smithwick, 53, a trial lawyer residing at Walden Pond Estates, Zone 3113, New England City: "Mr. Smithwick lives in a five-bedroom house on a two-acre plot of land in Walden Pond Estates, currently an officially designated 'depressed area.' His is one of the few large houses still standing in a community which consists almost entirely of rows of identical houses on less-than-one-half-acre plots. During our conversation Mr. Smithwick rose several times to warn groups of children playing on his lawn to keep away from the flowerbeds.
"Mr. Smithwick began the interview by saying: 'I'm the wrong man to ask about Walden Pond Estates. I'm moving out as soon as I can find an apartment in Boston. Of course, that's what everyone wants to do. Better urban jam than suburban jelly, as Mrs. Smithwick says. Do you know how long it took me to get to work today? Two hours and 10 minutes. All bumper-to-bumper traffic. It's strange to think that when my wife and I moved to this suburb, Walden Pond Estates seemed like a perfect place. I had a good commute to work, and still the children could grow up in a nice community where they had plenty of freedom and fresh air. In the summer it used to be an easy drive to the beach—it used to be called the Great Outer Beach of Cape Cod. I forget what they call it now. They've got pizza palaces, custard castles, roller rinks, motels, everything but a beach. It's not a place for children.
" 'When they brought the bulldozers in here and began to subdivide I kept thinking it had to stop somewhere. I used to keep those children off the lawn, but you know, they have no place to go, unless you count that little square of cement down by the pond.' "
Let us leave Dr. Dankwa at this point. He is, of course, an imaginary visitor to these shores, but his facts and figures for the year 2000 are very real indeed. They represent the result of careful research and study by a score of men in half a dozen fields, notably the urban projections of Jerome Pickard. All are agreed that unless we experience a catastrophic reversal of the inexorable march of urban industrial civilization, the picture Dr. Dankwa's thesis presents will be the face of America.
That roundest of round dates, 2000 A.D., still seems like a comfortably safe distance away. Yet one-half of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S current readers will live to clink a glass to the birth of this second millennium. Alive or dead, this generation will have bequeathed Urban America to its children.
The pattern for the year 2000 is set today. There is a rapidly compounding awareness that for every city-based American it is becoming increasingly difficult to find open country; that on the east and west coasts the cities are agglutinating at an astounding pace, swallowing up the land that once separated them; that beaches are getting smaller and more crowded each summer; that it is getting harder to find or keep up a place to hunt or fish or play golf or spend a vacation. "Never before has suburbia seethed with so many protest meetings," writes William H. Whyte Jr., editor of The Exploding Metropolis, "whether [highway] rerouting petitions, save-our-trees groups or stop-the-rape-of-the-valley emergency committees." We have already passed the critical point toward total urbanization of the U.S.—from now on more of the same means a radically different life for all.
Even 15 years from today, by 1975, the fundamental upheavals in population, leisure time, family income, mobility and urbanization of the land triggered by the years immediately following World War II will unavoidably have created a country radically different from what we still consider our heritage. The land as it was in Daniel Boone's time, or at the time of the great westward homesteading migrations, or even at the time the first automobile took to a rutted road, has become little more than a nostalgic memory.
All this being so, and seemingly irreversibly so, what is there to be done about it?
In the first place, is it necessary to do anything about it? The answer is a resounding "Yes." For no matter how urbanized and industrialized man has become—and increasingly will become—he is first and foremost an animal temperamentally rooted in the soil. Our fundamental heritage is not scientific or industrial but biological. "Man, despite the extraordinary mental accomplishments that have brought about his present-day civilization," writes the great naturalist and conservationist, Fairfield Osborn, "has been, is now and will continue to be part of nature's general scheme." Only very recently in terms of our biological inheritance and our own history on earth have we committed ourselves to that very specialized environment of the present day: the industrial society. We must provide room in that specialized environment for all of our needs, including those, such as communion with nature, which are not directly pertinent to our specialization, for if man cuts himself off entirely from the soil, his own character will change drastically.
To deny the simple human needs for open spaces, water and sky, to repress our humbler, soil-rooted past is dangerous. A psychiatrist recently put it this way: "An individual may not feel the need for occasional replenishment in unspoiled surroundings, but neither does he feel the need for vitamin D, the deprivation of which produces rickets." The demand for outdoor recreation, by the year 2000, will have mounted toweringly along with the factors producing it, as the chart on this page shows.
It is obvious, therefore, that something must be done. But where are we to look for the solution?
Historically, man's relationship to his natural environment has been the special province of the conservationist. But man, to the conservationist of the past, was the enemy, the oppressor of wildlife and the squanderer of the earth's resources. It was the conservationist's mission to protect from man the bison and the whooping crane, the great stands of sequoias and the craters of natural geysers, safeguarding them from the barren consequences of man's conviction that he held a special place in creation and that the land and its creatures were an inexhaustible cornucopia. Later, when conservationists began to blend some scientific method with their evangelical fervor, it became the added function of conservation to protect important natural resources, such as soil and water, from the inroads of industrial civilization.
But today this historic responsibility of conservation has changed. Today it is man himself who is in danger of becoming a victim of the industrial civilization he has spread so vigorously across the land. The dilemma of man enmeshed in an asphyxiating environment of his own creation presents the greatest challenge conservation has ever known, one that calls for a fundamental change in attitude on the part of conservationists, a great broadening of conservation's socioscientific base.
Today the subject of conservation is people.
Today the object of conservation is to create and preserve our necessary natural environment for present and future generations.
Today the very name of conservation should be broadened to embrace the vastly broadened scope of its activities: henceforth it should be known as social conservation.
Social conservation implies responsibility for a whole range of man's pressing social problems—and social conservation has that responsibility. Social conservation must play a leading role in the social and economic effort to resolve the amalgam of related problems plaguing America—the senseless devastation of the countryside, the increasing dehumanization of the harassed and isolated city dweller, the resurgence of slum areas, the irrational violence of frustrated youth. Resources conservation, urban renewal, outdoor recreation planning and city planning are all part of the broad attack on these overlapping problems. Concepts and techniques must be enlisted from many fields—from economics and sociology, from social anthropology and ecology and demography. The new "people-oriented" conservation discipline must encompass both nature and man.
There is a precedent for this in a closely related science. Anthropology was at one time limited to the physical history of man; today it has expanded into the analysis of man's group behavior and has moved out of the classroom and field trip into the wide domain of practical policy. Today this broadened discipline is known as social anthropology, and from this sister science social conservation can already benefit enormously. An increasingly effective arsenal of tools, for example, is already available in the research done by such foundations as the Ford-sponsored Resources for the Future Inc., by the Urban Land League, by land-grant universities and by study groups of conservationists allied to pursue a particular problem.
All this is not to say that conservation's classic preoccupations with wildlife and wilderness are not as important as ever. They are—but they are no longer of primary importance. They represent today significant technical specializations within the total field of social conservation. Of primary importance are such things as the problems of the cities, or the fast-disappearing open space throughout the country, the increasing demands for outdoor recreation of all kinds, the mounting pressures on existing open land, public and private. Here the new discipline of social conservation can be used to full effect.
The results of population pressure and the lack of recreational land all over America show up dramatically in the predicament of our national parks. These most popular recreational lands are administered by an agency within the Department of the Interior headed by Conrad Wirth. "Connie" Wirth's empire stretches from Yosemite in California to Acadia in Maine, from Alaska to Hawaii, and it is a rare week that does not see him pace a part of his domain. Behind Wirth are a $75-million annual budget, a loyal band of influential men and a league of organized supporters 14,000 strong. Facing Wirth are some troubled times.
Historically, it is the mission of the National Park Service to "expose" as many Americans as possible to its scenic domain. Last year the parks recorded all of 62,812,000 visits from land-starved Americans who drove through the gates of the national parks for bumper-to-bumper communion with nature. Statistics show that the majority of these visitors spent less than a day within the parks themselves. Conrad Wirth, alternately appalled and delighted by the sheer number of his guests, feels he must make the effort to accommodate them by building new and wider roads, moving overnight lodgings outside park boundaries, and by discouraging such things as pack trips, which prolong visits. Many people interested in the genuine exploration and enjoyment of these extraordinarily beautiful areas feel they are being hustled through, almost as if our national parks are being turned into national parkways.
There is no letup in sight; on the contrary, over the past decades there has been a steady 8% annual increase of visits to the parks. By projecting this to the year 2000, Wirth can look forward to the alarming prospect of one billion visits, or playing host to every man, woman and child in the U.S. three times a year.
Obviously this is not likely to happen. But just as obviously our great parks, representing as they do one of the few remaining opportunities for the weekending and vacationing urbanite to refresh and actively enjoy himself among splendid landscapes, cannot withstand these increasing pressures indefinitely.
A family should be able to find an opportunity for a day's outing, not necessarily in a great national park, but within reach of its home. It should not have to rely on the Federal Government for this, but rather on its own state and community. Certainly such local recreational facilities would take much of the pressure off the national parks, but this would be only an incidental benefit. More important would be the benefits which carefully developed and preserved open land would bring to the community itself and its residents. This apportionment of responsibility for the appropriate use and development of available open land in terms of people's varying needs is one of the fundamental concepts of social conservation. Everyone needs the stimulus both of readily available recreational opportunities and what Laurance Rockefeller has called "the cathedral experience" of truly magnificent landscapes.
In most of the country enough land is available so that a community need have only the will to insure the character of its environment for the future. But in the heavily industrialized parts of America it requires more than good will and a strong sense of purpose. In some areas the only hope of salvaging what still remains lies in the closest possible cooperation between government and community. However, there are difficulties inherent in this alliance, and they can best be illustrated by the dank history of a very present problem, that of the Cape Cod National Seashore.
In 1954 the National Park Service surveyed 3,700 miles of eastern seashore for the possible establishment of national seashore areas. A portion of Massachusetts' Cape Cod, running from Chatham to Provincetown and incorporating the Great Outer Beach, a 30-mile sweep backed by great cliffs where the dunes rise to a height of 50 feet, was given priority.
One of the most cogent reasons given by the Park Service in support of its choice was that this hitherto unravaged, dramatically beautiful stretch of shore was within a day's drive of one-third of the population of the U.S. The Park Service pointed out that 11% of the population of the U.S. lives on the one-half of 1% of land that stretches between Massachusetts and New York City, the most densely populated, heavily industrialized area in the country. Yet there is not a single national park in this area and scarcely any public beach.
The arguments of need and availability struck as less than persuasive the residents of Cape Cod who were affected. After all, it was their land; what would happen to it and them if it became a national park? Looking around them, at their peaceful towns, at their weather-beaten shingled houses which had often sheltered generations of the same family, at the stretches of beach backed by saltwater ponds, they saw no reason why they should share these pleasant things with invading hordes.
"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods," exclaimed one Cape Codder spiritedly. "As a good Yankee and American citizen, I say that commandment is just as good today as it was in Moses' time."
Others thought purely of the fantastic figures involved. If the Great Outer Beach was within reach of one-third of the U.S. population, would that mean 50 million to 60 million people on their beach? "Who is to save us from rape and murder when those thousands who have never heard of us come wandering in?" cried a woman at a town hall meeting. Others were willing to disregard the criminal propensities of the visitors when they thought of their appetites. How many hot dogs, how many pizzas would 60 million people demand, and why should the National Park Service interfere with the natives' free-enterprise rights to feed them?
The Park Service made a gallant effort to explain why, beyond mere need, the Cape Cod Great Outer Beach was an area of national importance and should be preserved as such. It dwelt eulogistically on the beauties of the beach, the rare geological formations of the area, the unique flora and fauna, the wealth of recreational opportunities and the rich historic associations. It was, after all, the Pilgrims' first landfall in America before moving on to Plymouth.
An unimpressed descendant of these Pilgrims, Joshua Nickerson, a resident of Chatham, which his ancestors bought from the Monomoit Indians in 1656, felt that the deeper meanings the Cape had for the "natives" would be unappreciated by strangers. "You have to live here for 300 years as I have before you can see Cape Cod, let alone understand it," said Mr. Nickerson to E. J. Kahn, a sympathetic New Yorker writer who himself owns a summer house on proposed park land.
The Park Service, alternately wielding stick and carrot, pointed out to those anxious to save the Cape that the newly completed highway down the spine of the Cape would mean that the relative inaccessibility of the Lower Cape was now at an end and that the townships themselves would be powerless to stop developers from erecting the pizza palaces, bowling alleys, startling motels and lurid signs which have so completely despoiled the Upper Cape. Only the National Park Service, so ran its message, could really undertake to preserve the area and see that it was developed in keeping with its traditions.
A DOME-RATTLING FUROR
While pro-park and anti-park factions formed and argued on the Cape itself, both houses of the Massachusetts legislature came out in favor of the park. Then in March of 1959 the Park Service issued two documents outlining the boundaries of the proposed park: it was to encompass 28,645 acres, almost 18,000 of which are privately owned. More than 600 home owners would find themselves camping on park property, with the towns of Truro and Wellfleet suffering the greatest property loss. The furor which followed rattled off the golden dome of Boston's State House and echoed all the way to Washington.
"Everyone is in favor of a national park in theory," said a Senate staff member, "but wait until you want an acre of their land! On the other hand," he reflected, "how would you like a family with three children, two dogs and a picnic basket romping across your backyard every day?" The Cape is a place which breeds fierce loyalties, and so many of the families involved have lived in the same area, if not the same house, for generations that when Harvard Professor Serge Chermayeff rose to speak at one of the public hearings, he apologized "for daring to love the Cape after a flirtation of only 17 years."
Conrad Wirth, Director of the Park Service, came to the Cape himself to explain what it meant to be a tenant on park land. Formerly private owners on public land had been given the choice of selling their property to the Government at a negotiated price or having a 25-year or life tenure. The towns involved might well be recompensed for their tax losses by a special grant of Congress.
Mr. Wirth's manner was a little insouciant for the Cape's threatened residents. Mrs. Walter P. Chrysler Jr., whose husband owns property in Wellfleet and who has just shelved plans for building an opulent house there, decided that "this seizure of property, however adequate or inadequate the compensation, differs little from the movement, displacement and often annihilation of large populations in Communist countries." She likened Cape Codders to "the Dalai Lama of Tibet, exiled to a new land by the aggression of the Chinese Communists."
Cooler heads than Mrs. Chrysler's were working in the meantime to solve some of the problems involved. Senators Leverett Saltonstall and John F. Kennedy collaborated with Representative Hastings Keith on a bill which, while advancing the park, asked for concessions to local residents unique in the annals of the Park Service.
Senator Kennedy wrote of Cape Cod that although "it lacks none of the natural beauty and scenic splendor which characterize most of the national parks, it is not an unsettled wilderness or forest area. Particularly since there are residents whose roots on the Cape reach back far into the past, it seems important to adapt a bill in such a way as to meet the legitimate interests and sentiments of existing residents." The bill provided that homeowners should not be required to give up their property rights as long as "acceptable" zoning was enforced. Furthermore, the six Lower Cape towns would receive very substantial financial assistance and might in the future develop for residential housing up to 10% of the total private land within park boundaries.
In December 1959 a hearing was held in Eastham on Cape Cod, by the Subcommittee on Public Lands of the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, with Senator Frank Moss of Utah presiding. The Kennedy-Saltonstall-Keith bill had done a great deal to alleviate the hostility of the anti-park faction by "considering the human aspects." The dissidents still rallied chiefly around the economic threat to the towns. But some residents still had their personal reasons. Dr. Madalene Winslow, a tall, formidable woman whose ancestors arrived in Provincetown "on a little sloop called the Mayflower," told the chairman that the proposed legislation made no provision for the picking of beach plums, blueberries, pine cones, bayberries and rose hips, which Cape families pick and preserve to supplement their income. She recalled a recent experience on a public beach when she was accosted by an official. "I was astounded when I was told to put my rose hips down," she said. "I did what a lot of people will do. I waited until that person had left. Then I picked them up and took them home and made my Rosa rugosa jam."
Joshua Nickerson still claimed that the Cape "is a homeland and not a place to be gaped at." Francis Bid-die, the former U.S. Attorney General, who divides his time between Cape Cod and Washington, declared: "You cannot have recreation and preservation at the same place at the same time" and expressed his aversion to the inclusion of the upland area, where he owns 20 acres. Professor Chermayeff, the self-confessed flirt, agreed that the recreational use of back-of-the-beach land should be strictly limited. "It's a miniature landscape," explained the professor. "A parking lot for 100 cars would leave a gash in the countryside. The very conservation of which you speak would fail."
Chermayeff went on to sum up what is perhaps the dominant feeling of the residents. "Whether we like it or not," he said, "the Cape has become accessible. The change coming to the Cape means it has to change. It is important to become reconciled. I am entirely for the park because it will give braking power to the change."
It is now six years since the land was surveyed by the Park Service. It may be another two years before the Service gets some of the land it wants. "I don't care which bill is passed," says Conrad Wirth, wistfully. "I'd just like to save some seashore."
The trouble is that on Cape Cod, as everywhere in the U.S., time is running out. Given fair weather, bulldozers across the nation will rip up another 3,000 acres of open land today. Another 4 million Americans will be born into this land this year. In the past conservationists have liked to quote Isaiah: "Woe unto them that join house to house" and to speak darkly of "rape," "plunder" and "frustrated futures." They may have been right—unless we take our point of departure from the evidence which is becoming clearer each day: there are no piecemeal solutions to the land problems of urban America.
Is there any solution at all? There is. In one of our great states, a small group of professionals has over the past three years taken a hard look at the people and resources of their state. In Washington, D. C. a group of distinguished citizens, working as a federal commission, is performing the same task for the country as a whole. The concepts of social conservation are being put to work right now. The results are of the greatest importance to every American.
SAN DIEGO METRO
SAN FRANCISCO BAY CITY
LOS ANGELES SUPERMETRO
PHOENIX LEISURE METRO
MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL CITY
ST. LOUIS METRO
DALLAS-FORT WORTH CITY
CUYAHOGA VALLEY CITY
NEW ENGLAND CITY
NEW YORK SUPERMETRO
DELAWARE VALLEY CITY
CHESAPEAKE AND POTOMAC CITY
TAMPA-ST. PETERSBURG LEISURE METRO
SOUTHEAST FLORIDA CITY
= DEMAND FOR OUTDOOR RECREATION
ABOUT THIS SERIES
While much of the material in this series is original, it is based on factual studies collected from many sources. Both in research and preparation the assistance of Isabel Eberstadt was invaluable. The editors also gratefully acknowledge the stimulating help of Dr. Marion Clawson of Resources for the Future Inc., pioneer of the statistical approach to outdoor recreation.
A bold new plan in California, and in Washington the first steps toward a national solution to insure a brighter future for all Americans.