Yosemite: “Less a Place than an Experience”

June 30 is the anniversary of the Yosemite Grant, the birth of the national park idea. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant Act in 1864. In October of the following year, 40,000 acres of sublime glacier-carved California wilderness debuted under the name Yosemite Valley—now the most visited portion of today’s larger Yosemite National Park.

1864 photo of Yosemite Valley by Charles Leander Weed

1864 photo of Yosemite Valley by Charles Leander Weed

Although the inaugural act did not make Yosemite the first national park, the grant did set the stage for the formation of national park system in later years. It was the first time the U.S. Government moved to protect wild lands.

The National Park Service’s publication “A Sense of Place: Design Guidelines for Yosemite National Park” is available now through the U.S. Government Online Bookstore:

A Sense of Place: Design Guidelines for Yosemite National Park

024-005-01295-8This book conveys design knowledge from park service professionals who have devoted their careers to respecting the natural feel, rhythm, and patterns of what is, as former National Park Service Deputy Director John J. Reynolds writes in the opener, “less a place than an experience.” Their designs have been considerate of a wilderness of “immense rock forms, thundering waterfalls, pristine wilderness, serene meadows, and ancient groves of sequoias.”

Thus, these design guidelines operate as an ethic, a set principles to guide sustainable architectural and landscape work and maintain the distinctive character of Yosemite. It’s a reference book for anyone working to make the built environment compatible with the incomparable natural surroundings. And it’s an assurance that all structures and facilities will be aligned with the park’s values and spirit. Maps and historical images tell the tale of a natural splendor that has endured because of this very conscientiousness and reverence.

President Theodore Roosevelt called Yosemite a “great solemn cathedral, far vaster and more beautiful than any built by the hand of man.” A serene valley protected for public use and preservation in the midst of the Civil War became a piece of America’s natural heritage. Yosemite continues to draw visitors and conservationists from around the world. With the right design guidelines in place, it will continue to inspire generations of Americans to find peace in the masterpieces of nature.


Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.

 Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: Blogger contributor Chelsea Milko is a Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations Office.

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