Fairmount Park making a comeback

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Main entrance

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Fairmount Lake

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Lake Evans

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Plenty of shade

Arguably Riverside's most interesting park, Fairmount is staging a comeback. After several years of neglect, the city recently completed various park improvements, including new gazebos, picnic tables and playgrounds as well as refurbishing of the boathouse, itself a 1995 replica of the original 1911 boathouse.

One of the most expensive improvements was the dredging of both Lake Evans and Fairmount Lake, which were last dredged in 1983. The city spent $2 million to clean and remove 50,000 tons of silt that accumulated at the bottom of the lakes. Both lakes were then restocked with two tons of catfish.

Fairmount Park originated in smaller form as early as 1898 on land near the Santa Ana River on the northwest edge of downtown. But it wasn't until land donated in 1903 by longtime Riverside businessman S.C. Evans Sr. in which the park of today began to take shape. Evans' donation allowed for the creation of the park's first lake -- Fairmount Lake.

A major expansion in 1911 saw elements from an Olmsted Brothers plan added, including a boathouse and Japanese-style lotus garden with arched, wooden bridges (later replaced with cement versions). Although at least two bridges remain, damaging floods over the years have wiped out the lotus garden. It's too bad the city found neither the money -- nor the will -- to replace it.

A 1924 expansion added another 60 acres, this time donated from S.C. Evans Jr. The additional acreage allowed for the creation of the park's second lake -- the much larger Lake Evans. Future expansions would eventually give the 180-acre park its current landscape that now includes a third lake.

Hailing from a different era, Fairmount is chock full of old-school park features, including forest-like trees and foliage, a bandshell, rose garden, lawn bowling club, boathouse, and of course, the three rustic lakes. At various times, the park also sported a small petting zoo and amusement area -- with a carousel (1947) and later a tiny roller coaster -- but these have long-since been removed.

Today, the park is seeing a rebirth thanks in part to the recent improvements funded from the city's $1.8 billion, 5-year Riverside Renaissance plan.

We're glad to see the city's flagship park regaining back some of its former glory.

Related

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Park map
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Boathouse
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New paths
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Resurfaced

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Entrance
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Rose Garden
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Pier
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Leisure time



Sources: City of Riverside, The Press-Enterprise, "Colony for California" (Tom Patterson)



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This page contains a single entry by RXSQ published on June 29, 2008 4:56 PM.

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