A native of Nova Scotia, Joseph Blair arrived at the U of I in 1896 and established courses in landscape architecture and urban planning. He taught horticulture for 43 years and was one of the founders of the Urbana Park District. Blair helped establish the study of landscape architecture at the university, procuring library materials and hiring faculty to support a curriculum distinct from that of horticulture. Blair designed parks and urban grounds in Urbana and elsewhere in Illinois. He lectured and lobbied across the state to establish Fort Massac (in Metropolis) as the first of Illinois' state parks in 1908 and has been called the "Father of the Illinois State Park System." He designed Urbana's Carle Park and was responsible for the planting of more than 6,000 trees in Champaign-Urbana during his career. The Urbana Park District honored him by establishing Blair Park at South Vine Street and Florida Avenue.