The Enduring Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted's North American Landscapes
by ; Charles Birnbaum; Dena Tasse-Winter; Arleyn Levee
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Pub Date 11 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 11 Oct 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.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 5 members
Frederick Law Olmsted has always held a special place in my heart because my aunts would come down to visit and want to go to Biltmore House. No matter the season or how many times I visit, the grounds, gardens, and surrounding woodlands never cease to leave me in awe. My favorite green spaces in the U.S. are all either Olmsted or Olmsted Firm designs.
I have no doubt this title will be a lovely coffee table book but it can also serve as a state-by-state travel guide to the Olmsted Firm's many projects. Entries feature maps, sketches, and photographs as well as brief but detailed descriptions of the planning and intention behind each project as well as those involved in the process. In addition to the geographic guide, the book includes biographical sketches of key members of the Olmsted Firms as well as an index and bibliography.
I first heard of Frederick Law Olmsted while reading The Devil in the White City almost twenty years ago. I learned that he was the landscape architect for New York’s Central Park and helped design the grounds for the World’s Fair in Chicago. With this book I’ve come to understand the influence of his designs and work in landscape architecture across United States and Canada. The book is section by states plus Canada describing parks, neighborhoods, universities, state and national parks which his firm is responsible for designing grounds. I was astounded at how many I have personally visited without realizing his influence. Essentially much of the Mall, White House, Capital Grounds and Memorials in Washington DC were designed by Olmsted. Whole state park systems in California and Colorado were planned by him. Universities, museums, city parks in many states carry his influence. I had no idea that my own state capitol grounds in Utah are his designs.
The book is informative and contains many beautiful photos. I truly learned from this book and also added a few places I want to visit after reading descriptions and seeing the photos. This would be welcomed addition to any library for its historical information and photography. I’m very happy to have read it. Thank you to NetGalley, Timber Press and the authors for a temporary eARC in exchange for an honest review.
This is a fantastic book on the landscape design work of Frederick Law Olmsted. I had no idea the extent of his work and influence. The book organizes Olmstead's projects by location with projects spanning more than 1/2 of the United States and Canada, and are illustrated with photos and maps from the past and present. The book closes with short bibliographies of Olmstead's contemporaries who helped create the remarkable green spaces we continue to enjoy today. I was left with a sense of gratitude and awe at the scope, longevity and generosity of their vision and talents. I will definitely be purchasing this book for easy access on my coffee table.
Thank you very much Timber Press and #NetGalley for the ARC e-copy of #Experiencing Olmstead
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