Balboa Park, San Diego, CA
George Cooke
1849 - 1908

George Cooke

Born in Puttenham, England, Cooke studied for a brief time at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, but never received formal training in landscape architecture or engineering. He held a series of horticultural and gardening jobs in Leicestershire, England, in the 1880s, including work at Launde Abbey, a country house with extensive gardens. In 1891 he began working at the Quorn House and was married in 1892 to Eliza Jane.

After the owner of Quorn House died in 1895, Cooke moved to Madison, New Jersey, and worked on the 840-acre Florham estate designed by McKim, Mead & White and Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. By 1897 Cooke was employed by the New York City Department of Public Parks. During his time in New York, Cooke met landscape architect Samuel Parsons, Jr. Together they formed the landscape architecture firm Samuel Parsons and Company.

Among the company’s major projects was City Park in San Diego (later known as Balboa Park). Cooke arrived in July 1903 to supervise the grading of roads and paths on the west side of the park. He also completed work on the landscape of the Marston House and laid out the streets for the Point Loma and Mission Hills neighborhoods, designing curvilinear roadways that respect the natural terrain. Drawing upon his roadbuilding expertise, he became the supervising engineer for the San Diego Chamber of Commerce Committee on Boulevards, beginning in May 1907, and the chief engineer for road building in San Diego County on June 10, 1908. While Cooke was surveying roads near Alpine, California, in early August 1908, he was involved in an accident with a horse-drawn wagon and died three days later.

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