Experiencing Olmsted: The Enduring Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted's North American Landscapes (Hardcover)
If you are reading these words, you have probably heard of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. and his most celebrated landscape designs: the big New York City parks, Boston's "Emerald Necklace," or the Biltmore in North Carolina. But Olmsted's career encompassed many more projects, some with Calvert Vaux, and many more with his son, his adopted nephew, and others who joined him in his landscape architecture firm. This compilation takes a look at many of the firm's greatest public projects in 33 states and Canada. Although more projects are covered from New York, Massachusetts, and Washington State than other places, it's worth noting that Dayton, Ohio had 153 projects overseen in part by an Olmsted firm. (Ann Arbor also has two that are chronicled in this book.) The more you visit Olmsted parks, the more you understand all the decisions that had to be made about environmental siting, trees, shrubs, and plants, hardscape and buildings, and water features. Thankfully, many organizations now have popped up to preserve this unmatched American legacy, including the one that produced this book. A great gift for anyone who loves road trips.— From Carla's Picks (2021-2022)
Frederick Law Olmsted is the father of American landscape architecture. His firm, and the successor firms that sprung from it, worked through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to shape some of our most beloved green spaces, including national, state, and city parks, suburban neighborhoods, and academic campuses. He is most famous for creating New York’s Central and Prospect Parks, Stanford University’s campus, and the Capitol Grounds. What is less known and surprising about his legacy is that he worked widely across North America.
By highlighting 200 iconic landscapes, many of which are still open to the public today, Experiencing Olmsted brings a fresh approach to the firms’ work and philosophy. It highlights not only grand city parks, but also other public venues born out of a desire for social equity. Olmsted was an early voice for parks as democratic spaces that could be reached on foot by a large percentage of any city’s populace. He viewed parks as restorative places—what he termed “the lungs of a city.” Brimming with contemporary and archival photography as well as original drawings and plans, this truly remarkable record brings these places to vivid life.
“Abundant photographs, both vintage and contemporary, come alongside fascinating blueprints, drawings, and maps. The authors make a strong case for just how influential Olmsted’s firm was…The result is a beautiful look at how some landmarks came to be.” —Publishers Weekly