Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley
Bierstadt witnessed the beginning of the destruction of his beloved landscape,
especially after the popularity of Church's painting of Niagara. Early in the
19th century, most people considered Niagara Falls to be "the nation's most
magnificent natural spectacle." But that spectacle was desecrated as developers
harnessed the falls for power, cut the timber that surrounded them, and turned
the best scenic overlooks into curios stands selling cheap souvenirs. According
to historian Alfred Runte, the national shame felt about Niagara spurred people
into action. When Albert Bierstadt presented to America his images of Yosemite
Valley, people insisted that the area be protected from Niagara's fate. Instead
of allowing the valley to be subdivided by settlers, Congress in 1864 gave
Yosemite to the state of California, to be held "inalienable" for all time. A
few years later, Thomas Moran's paintings and William Henry Jackson's photos
revealed that Yellowstone was even more spectacular than Yosemite, and the
National Park System was established.