Olmsted, Frederick Law

Olmsted, Frederick Law

biographical name

(born April 26, 1822, Hartford, Conn., U.S.—died Aug. 28, 1903, Brookline, Mass.) U.S. landscape architect. He traveled throughout the American South in the 1850s and won fame for several books describing its slaveholding culture. During an extended vacation in Europe, he became profoundly impressed with English landscaping, which he described in Walks and Talks of an American Farmer in England (1852). In 1857 he was hired as superintendent of New York City's newly planned Central Park. With the architect Calvert Vaux (1824–95), he won a competition to design the park, and he became its chief architect in 1858. The result was a nature-lover's paradise incorporating lawns, woods, ponds, and meandering paths; it represented one of the first attempts in the U.S. to apply art to the improvement of nature in a public park. Other Olmsted parks include Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York City; a Niagara Falls, N.Y., park project; an extensive system of parks and parkways in Boston; and the World's Columbian Exposition (later Jackson Park) in Chicago. As chairman of the first Yosemite commission, he helped secure the area as a permanent public park.

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