City Hall Park opened in 1924 next to city hall. It had grassy areas, a children’s playground, hundreds of shrubs and trees, and lots of benches. In the early 1950s, with increased traffic around city hall, there was a proposal to turn the park into a parking lot. And, with overcrowding at city hall, there was talk about putting an annex on park land. Neither proposal passed.
In 1955 City Hall Park was redesigned by San Francisco landscaper Douglas Baylis and renamed Elinor Cogswell Plaza in honor of Cogswell, editor of the Palo Alto Times from 1938 to 1954. Cogswell, whose office across Lytton overlooked the park, fought hard to keep the park a park.