History & Culture
Shaper of the American Landscape
Perhaps more than any other person, Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) affected the way America looks. He is best known as the creator of major urban parks, but across the nation, from the green spaces that help define our towns and cities, to suburban life, to protected wilderness areas, he left the imprint of his fertile mind and boundless energy. Out of his deep love for the land and his social commitment he fathered the profession of landscape architecture in America.
In what he created and what he preserved for the future, Olmsted's legacy is incalculable. The informal natural setting he made popular characterizes the American Landscape. Beyond the hundreds of parks enjoyed by millions of people, Olmsted and his firm set the standard for hospital and institutional grounds, campuses, zoos, railway stations, parkways, private estates, and residential subdivisions across the country. Olmsted's principles of democratic expansion and public access still guide and inspire urban planners. From the broadest concepts to the smallest details of his profession, the sign of Olmsted's hand is everywhere in our lives.
Did You Know?
Frederick Law Olmsted’s landscape design for the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 was a model for Disney’s Experimental Prototype of the Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT).