Frederick Law Olmsted

Architect / Landscape Designer

Born: 1822
Died: 28 August 1903
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut
Best known as: The designer of Central Park
Frederick Law Olmsted has been called "the founder of American landscape architecture and the nation's foremost parkmaker" by the National Park Service. Olmsted was born into a well-to-do family and dabbled in various professions until being appointed superintendent of Central Park during the park's design phase in 1857. With fellow designer Calvert Vaux, he designed the 843-acre park and oversaw its early development. Central Park was a tremendous success, and established the themes which are now closely associated with Olmsted, especially his use of hills, trees and curved walkways to give visitors intriguing vistas and a feeling of serene isolation from the city. Olmsted and Vaux later formed a partnership and designed Brooklyn's Prospect Park as well as major parks in Buffalo, Louisville and elsewhere. Olmsted founded his own firm in 1883 in Brookline, Massachusetts and conceived Boston's "Emerald Necklace" of greenspaces. Among his many other projects, he played a major role in the 1870s redesign of the U.S. Capitol grounds and in the design of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Olmstead retired in 1895 and his firm was taken over by his son, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.
Extra credit: Olmsted's Brookline estate, "Fairsted," is now a national historic site... Prior to his landscape work, he was a journalist and co-founded The Nation magazine... Olmsted married his brother's widow in 1859.

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