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Frederick Law Olmsted Edit Profile


Frederick Law Olmsted - American landscape architect, was prominent in promoting and planning recreational parks across the country.


He was born at Hartford, Connecticut, on April 26, 1822. His father, John Olmsted, was a prosperous merchant who took a lively interest in nature, people, and places; Frederick Law and his younger brother, John Hull, also showed this interest. His mother, Charlotte Law (Hull) Olmsted, died before his fourth birthday.


He did not matriculate at college because of weak eyes, but he attended lectures at Yale University intermittently and became an honorary member of the class of 1847.

He also studied engineering.


Frederick Law Olmsted was born at Hartford, Connecticut, on April 26, 1822.

Before realizing his dream, Downing died.

Olmsted kept the idea alive and in 1857 was appointed superintendent of what became Central Park.

The Olmsted firm became the foremost landscape architects in America.

Their projects included Prospect Park, Brooklyn (1865); the village of Riverside near Chicago (1868); Mount Royal Park, Montreal (1873 - 1881); the grounds of the Capitol, Washington, D. C. (1874 - 1885); the Boston park system (1875 - 1895); Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif. (1886 - 1889); and Jackson Park, Chicago (1895).

Restless by nature, Olmsted traveled frequently and often published his diaries and talks.

He wrote Walks and Talks of an American Farmer in England (1852), A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States (1856), A Journey through Texas (1857), and A Journey in the Back Country (1860).

Always interested in publishing, he and C. S. Sargent founded the journal Garden and Forest.

Three of his books, depicting conditions in the Southern states prior to the Civil War, were reprinted in one volume, The Cotton Kingdom, in 1953.

Olmsted's real career as a landscape architect began in 1857 when, with a British colleague, Calvert Vaux, he participated in a competition for the design of Central Park, New York City, and became its chief architect.

He also participated in laying out the United States Capitol grounds and the Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893.


  • Olmsted's principles of design encourage the full utilization of the naturally occurring features of a given space. A beautiful example of this mix of principles is seen in the Park's Mall in New York's Central Park, a large promenade leading to the Bethesda Terrace and the single formal feature in Olmsted and Vaux's original naturalistic design.

    In addition, Olmsted designed numerous school and college campuses between 1857 and 1895.

    Olmsted's most important late work was the design for the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago (1890 - 1893).

    He was one of the founders of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1898.


Olmsted was an important early leader of the conservation movement in the United States.


Quotes from others about the person

  • “Colleague architect Daniel Burnham said, "An artist, he paints with lakes and wooded slopes; with lawns and banks and forest covered hills; with mountain sides and ocean views. "”


John Olmsted

Charlotte Law (Hull) Olmsted

Henry Hobson Richardson

Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.

John Charles Olmsted

younger brother :
John Hull