Date of Award

Spring 2006

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Robert Wojtowicz

Committee Member

Linda McGreevy

Committee Member

Jeffery Richards

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.H85 W45 2006


If what they say is true, that first impressions are always the most important, then the city of Norfolk, Virginia could impress anyone. The Norfolk Botanical Garden began as approximately 30 acres surrounding Mirror Lake, adjacent to the proposed Norfolk Municipal Airport in 1938. Today the Garden consists of 158 acres that include a variety of garden styles, manmade canals, and extensive educational facilities. It serves as the first and last view visitors have of Norfolk. The Norfolk Botanical Garden is an example of interdisciplinary co-operation. Biology, urban planning, landscape architecture, and various political involvements are all expressed within the Garden's design and purpose. It provides a physical representation of what can occur when urban planners and city officials take the time to create an environment worthy of its form and function. The Garden is the balance between two necessary, and often opposing, forces within a city: the need for modem air travel and the need for open spaces in the community. By juxtaposing these two competitive functions, Norfolk has visually balanced technology and community, man and nature. This thesis will discuss the evolution of the Norfolk Azalea Garden started in 1938 to the current Norfolk Botanical Garden. Special attention will be given to the early involvement of the Works Projects Administration and the social and racial implications present in the Garden's creation. Secondly, this thesis will provide documentation of all the Garden's resources. Lastly, this thesis will address the significance of the Norfolk Botanical Garden within the context of urban planning. Factors including the Garden's location and continued growth in size and function will be analyzed. Recently, Norfolk Botanical Garden was nominated and approved to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This honor provides a strong basis on which to discuss the trend towards preservation of historic landscapes. The impact of this nomination will further the Garden's function and provide new means to acknowledge local history.


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