In 1966, to celebrate the Service’s birthday, an exhibit entitled PARKSCAPE was erected. This exhibit featured a conservation logo designed by the New York firm of Chermayeff and Geismar Associates consisting of 3 triangles enclosing three balls. The triangles represented the outdoors (trees and Mountains) with the 3 balls being the standard symbol for preservation.
In addition, the same firm designed a new seal for the Department of the Interior. Secretary Stewart L. Udall had attempted to change Interior’s name to either Department of Natural Resources or Department of Conservation, but this met with great opposition. He did, however, manage to have the seal changed from the buffalo to a stylized pair of hands holding a circle (sun) over two large triangles (mountains) which inturn were over nine small inverted triangles symbolizing water. The hands motif had been suggested by Vince Gleason as an abstract symbolizing that the Nation’s natural resources were in good hands.
Following closely on the heels of MISSION 66, Director George B. Hartzog, Jr. (1964-1972) came forth with a new agenda titled PARKSCAPE U.S.A. Among it’s facets was one that dealt with the upgrading and modernization of the image of the Service itself. Hartzog had become enamored with the logo of the PARKSCAPE exhibit and adopted it for his new program.
Hartzog used the occasion of an article in the July, 1966, issue of the National Geographic Society Magazine concerning the National Park System to launch his new program. He assured employees that the triangle symbol would supplement rather than supplant the arrowhead.
In 1968, however, when Secretary Udall adopted the new Interior seal (designed by Chermayeff and Geismar Associates), Hartzog seized the opportunity to replace the arrowhead with the Parkscape symbol. With the buffalo gone from the Interior seal, he rationalized, the arrowhead with its buffalo was no longer relevant. Field reaction to this move was nevertheless unenthusiastic, for the representational arrowhead was far better liked than the abstract Parkscape symbol.
Nevertheless, boards were made up by Chermayeff & Geismar showing how the new symbols would look on the various pieces of clothing, as well as on vehicles and signs.
On March 3, 1969, Acting Director Edward Hummel sent a memorandum to all regional directors ordering the removal of the arrowhead shoulder patch. “In keeping with the Director’s desire to act positively on field suggestions, it has been decided that effective June 1, 1969, Service emblem shoulder and cap patches will not be worn on any National Park Service garments,” he wrote. Before this unpopular directive could be implemented, Secretary Hickel reinstated the buffalo seal. Hartzog thereupon reinstated the arrowhead as the official NPS emblem and continued its use as a patch in a memorandum dated May 15, 1969. Perhaps as a gesture to the few supporters of the Parkscape symbol, he simultaneously ordered its retention as the official NPS tie tack.