Friday, April 26, 2013

Frederick Law Olmsted’s Birthday

Are you familiar with the work of Frederick Law Olmsted?  He was born on this date in 1822.

Oil portrait by John Singer Sargent
Olmsted essentially founded the profession of landscape architecture in America, and even if you don’t know his name, I’m sure you know some of his works.  He co-designed both Central Park and Prospect Park (both in NYC), one of the first planned communities (Riverside, IL), and many coordinated systems of public parks and parkways across the US (e.g., Buffalo, Milwaukee, Louisville, et al). 
Central Park, NYC
Olmsted was innovative and vitally interested in conservation.  His efforts resulted in lands being set aside for the first national park at Yosemite Valley and aided in preserving the natural wonders of Niagara Falls.  Definitely, a man before his time.

Niagara Falls
Olmsted also had a career in journalism.  He wrote and published a book entitled Walks and Talks of an American Farmer in England after visiting public gardens in England in 1852.  Olmstead’s friend described his work as follows:  “An artist, he paints with lakes and wooded slopes; with lawns and banks and forest covered hills; with mountain sides and ocean views”. 

As we move into Spring, it is fitting that we pause to remember the contributions of visionaries like Olmsted and enjoy the parks and urban oasis that they were instrumental in setting aside for us.  It kind of of makes me want to make up a floral quilt right now!

To learn more about landscape architecture, see this site:
 I found the links on that site about Therapeutic Gardens and Public Gardens particularly interesting.  Here are some more examples of Olmsted’s work:
Capitol grounds, Washington, DC
Reflecting Pool at UC-Berkeley

Columbia Exposition of 1893, Chicago

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