The 2017 HALS Challenge

Roeding Park (HALS CA-59). Grove of fan palms on east side of park. image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HALS CA-59
Roeding Park (HALS CA-59). Grove of fan palms on east side of park.
image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HALS CA-59

The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) was created in 2000 to promote documentation of our country’s dynamic historic landscapes. Much progress has been made in identifying cultural landscapes, but more is needed to document these designed and vernacular places.

For the 8th annual HALS Challenge, we invite you to document a historic city or town park. In 2016, the National Park Service celebrated its centennial with the Find Your Park movement to spread the word about the amazing national parks and the inspirational stories they tell about our diverse cultural heritage. Find Your Park is about more than just national parks! It’s also about local parks and the many ways that the American public can connect with history and culture and make new discoveries. With more than 80% of Americans living in urban areas, urban parks are becoming more important than ever.

Perhaps the city or town park you choose to document may:

  • be so popular that it is threatened by overuse;
  • be challenged with incompatible additions or updates;
  • suffer from neglect and deferred maintenance;
  • be unnoticed with its significance unappreciated; and/or
  • be documented to encourage its preservation.

Please contact your state ASLA Chapter’s volunteer HALS Liaison if possible when you have selected a site to document for the HALS Challenge to be sure no one else is already preparing a HALS historic report for it. HALS Liaisons’ contact information may be found online. If your chapter’s volunteer HALS Liaison position is vacant, please consider volunteering yourself or suggesting it to a colleague who may be interested.

The Wilcox Park (HALS RI-1) short form historical report is the first Historic American Landscapes Survey documentation for Rhode Island. image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HALS RI-1
The Wilcox Park (HALS RI-1) short form historical report is the first Historic American Landscapes Survey documentation for Rhode Island.
image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HALS RI-1

There are many fascinating historic city and town parks in all 50 states. People from every state are hereby challenged to complete at least one HALS short format history to document these beloved resources. Preservation Through Documentation!

Short format histories should be submitted to HALS at the National Park Service no later than July 31, 2017. The HALS Short Format History guidelines, brochure and digital template may be downloaded from either the NPS or ASLA HALS websites. NOTE: There are some changes to HALS Challenge rules and MS Word digital HALS Short Form History Template for the 2017 HALS Challenge! These updates are included within the template itself as well as within the 2017 HALS Challenge Brochure. Please read both thoroughly before entering the 2017 HALS Challenge.

The biggest change in the rules is that no more than ten (10) digital photographs may be included at the end of each HALS Challenge entry. These may ONLY consist of digital, existing-conditions photographs taken by the author(s) of the site being documented. Your research should still include analyzing historic drawings and photos of the landscape you are documenting. Historic graphics are often the most important primary source for analytically writing about a historic landscape. Due to complicated copyright restrictions, we are banning the reproduction of all historic graphics within HALS Challenge entries. Historic graphics may still be referenced and described in the text with their repository source named. A thoroughly written analysis is even more useful to readers than a reproduced copy of historic graphic itself, and all copyright issues may be avoided. This is a writing competition!

Ala Moana Park (HALS HI-21). Bridle Path Bridge. image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HALS HI-21
Ala Moana Park (HALS HI-21). Bridle Path Bridge.
image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HALS HI-21

Winners will be announced at the HALS Subcommittee Meeting at the 2017 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Los Angeles. Employees of the National Park Service, American Society of Landscape Architects, and Library of Congress may submit HALS Short Format Historical Reports, but are ineligible for prizes.

For more information, contact Chris Stevens, 202-354-2146, Chris_Stevens@nps.gov.

by Chris Stevens, ASLA, NPS HALS Landscape Architect, Past Chair of the Historic PPN, and current HALS Chair / Coordinator

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