In 1921, W.R. Ballard a landscape specialist at the University of Maryland used the phrase, the parked roadside, to describe the growing need of an increasingly mobile American public to have access to local or semi-local natural places accessible via automobile. Places where city inhabitants could escape from the urban swarm and where neighborhood residents could find an even deeper experience in natural places. The sentiments of Ballard and his contemporaries resonate in a surprisingly contemporary way, as they discussed the same issues that haunt us still – the use and preservation of natural spaces. In many places state park development was prompted by these ideas and they were also the catalyst for the creation of a variety of smaller scale sites that would provide respite from urban life and even the road itself. These spaces include, roadside parks, waysides, scenic overlooks, rest areas, county parks, and state parks; together they form the Parked Roadside.
The Parked Roadside as a project grew from Rest Area History. More than a decade of researching, surveying, and writing about interstate roadside rest areas revealed that these sites are not a fully unique type but developed and exist within a broader context of non-commercial roadside spaces. Spaces that are rooted with equal parts in the worlds of nature and culture. Plotted and designed to promote an interaction between each.
Join the Roadside for photos, essays and road trips that explore the history, landscape, and modern experience of these diverse roadside spaces.