Wednesday, July 4th, 2012...6:05 am

Frederick Law Olmstead – Landscape Architect Extrordinaire

Summer in Central Park by kevin dooley

Have you ever wondered who America’s first and foremost landscape architect is or was? He was the founder of Landscape Architecture. Do you wonder what the Central Park in Manhattan, the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, the United States Capitol Grounds and much of the Stanford University campus have in common?

If you said that the answer to the first question is Frederick Law Olmsted and the answer to the second question is that this same Frederick Law Olmsted was responsible for those landscapes in Central Park, Arnold Arboretum, the grounds at the United States Capitol and the Stanford University campus as well as thirty more parks across the country, you are correct.

Frederick Law Olmsted created parks in Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont,  Washington, Washington, DC, West Virginia, Wisconsin and in parts of Canada. (see here)

Frederick Law Olmsted was truly amazing. The incredible thing was that he was able to accomplish so much in one lifetime. Unbelievably, he had other careers, including journalism, writing books and articles on such diverse subjects as farming and slavery that were extremely influential and being the head of an organization during the Civil War that evolved into what we today know as the Red Cross.  Olmsted visited so much of America and was one of the first to visit Yosemite National Park. He was responsible for advocating the saving of beautiful natural parts of of the United States and setting them aside for posterity, to be enjoyed by everyone; his ideas formed the beginnings of our National Park System. In spite of all Frederick Law Olmsted accomplished, so few people know very much about this American who left such an “indelible an imprint on the national landscape.”

If you enjoy reading, there is an excellent book about Frederick Law Olmsted. I highly recommend the book “Genius of Place- The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted” by Justin Martin.  The reviews of this book on are overwhelming.

I am pleased to say that I have visited many of the parks or landscaped areas that Olmsted’s created- places that I did not realize were done by him. I am sure that many of my readers have as well. But how much do you know about their creator?

There are so many parks and grounds landscaped by Olmsted throughout the US  that an interesting destination vacation would be to visit as many of these places as one can.

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