From Central Park to Stanford University, the Biltmore Estate to the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, Frederick Law Olmsted’s influence on North American landscapes stretches far and wide.
To mark Tuesday’s bicentennial of the birth of the man dubbed the “father of landscape architecture,” The Cultural Landscape Foundation has released “What’s Out There Olmsted,” a digital guide to Olmsted’s legacy, including projects completed by his successor firms.
“The impact of Frederick Law Olmsted Sr., on the nation’s identity and the profession of landscape architecture is inestimable,” said Charles Birnbaum, the foundation’s president and CEO, in a statement.
Though New York City’s Central Park is perhaps Olmsted’s best-known achievement, he had a hand in designing countless parks and park systems, university campuses, gardens, scenic byways and more. The digital guide provides snapshots of 300 landscapes that bear his imprint, featuring photographs and brief descriptions.
Olmsted left his signature on Chicago’s green space as part of the team behind the World’s Columbian Exhibition of 1893. The fair’s dazzling “White City” was a temporary creation, largely dismantled when the exhibition ended, but Olmsted’s contributions to the site survived in the form of Midway Plaisance and Jackson Park. (The foundation references the threat to Olmsted’s vision posed by the construction of the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park.)
In a continuation of the bicentennial celebration, Birnbaum will visit Chicago in May for a discussion at the Chicago Architecture Center in which he’ll explore Olmsted’s roles as designer, planner, educator, reformer, advocate, activist and innovator, as well as his enduring influence.