The Father of Landscape Architecture

Articles

Over a century since his passing, Frederick Law Olmsted Senior’s influence is still felt and experienced by millions each year as people from all over the world take the opportunity to visit and experience one of the many landscapes he designed throughout his life.

Known by many as the father of landscape architecture, and creator of many of America’s most prominent and beloved 19th century landscapes including New York’s Central Park with its magnificent 20-acre lake, Bethesda Terrace and Bow Bridge, the Biltmore Estate, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and the U.S. Capital grounds.

Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. spent much of his life increasing his knowledge of the world around him through his pursuits in farming, public health, literary arts, journalism and landscape architecture. The latter was highly influenced by the natural English landscape and his love of gardening.

Olmsted primarily designed in a picturesque pastoral style that encouraged full incorporation of the natural environment of the space; details became a subordinate part to the overall design and feel of these spaces which were typically filled with vast expanses of greenery, water features, groves of trees, rock outcroppings and broken up terrain that played with light and shadow giving the space a sense of depth and intrigue.

Olmsted was driven to create equitable enhanced public spaces open to all citizens regardless of their social status that showcased the inherent possibilities that a free society offered. Olmsted with the assistance of his professional partners and staff established the first known park systems and urban greenways in the United States over his 40 year career that began in the mid 1850s.

With the assistance of fellow colleague, Charles Eliot, Olmsted played a pivotal role in the movement to preserve natural scenic treasures such as Niagara Falls, Yellowstone, and Yosemite National Park.

-Brad T.