books

Charles Eliot, Landscape ArchitectCharles Eliot, Landscape Architect

Charles W. Eliot

Reprint of the 1902 edition, with a new introduction by Keith N. Morgan

ASLA Centennial Reprint Series

Published by University of Massachusetts Press in association with LALH

Cloth $50.00
1999

ISBN: 978-1-55849-212-7
To order: University of Massachusetts Press
tel. 800-537-5487, fax 410-516-6998

The history of the profession of landscape architecture in the United States is still obscure to most people, even landscape practitioners. One of the most important figures in this field was Charles Eliot, whose story is told in this richly detailed biography. It was written by his father, the president of Harvard College, in 1902, a few years after Eliot’s death at age thirty-eight from spinal meningitis.

Like his colleague and partner Frederick Law Olmsted Sr., the younger Eliot was a figure of enormous talent and energy, and a major force in the profession. He emerges from his father’s text as a brilliant though melancholy young man with a passion for travel, history, and the natural landscape. Included are passages from Eliot’s travel writing, professional correspondence, and public reports, which bear witness to the range of his interests and intellect.

Eliot pioneered many of the fundamental principles of regional planning and laid the conceptual and political groundwork for The Trustees of Reservations, the first statewide land conservancy in the country. He played a central role in shaping the Boston Metropolitan Park System, designed several public and private landscapes, and wrote prolifically on a host of topics. His early death robbed the profession of one of its brightest lights.

In a new introduction, Keith N. Morgan offers a critical reading of Eliot’s life and contributions to the fields of landscape architecture and regional planning. Morgan fills in the gaps left by Eliot’s father and offers many insights into an important chapter in American landscape history. The book includes 110 illustrations and two large fold-out maps that show the distribution of public open spaces in metropolitan Boston in 1892 and 1901.

KEITH N. MORGAN, Ph.D., a professor of art history and director of architectural studies at Boston University, Morgan is also a contributing author, with Elizabeth Hope Cushing and Roger G. Reed, of Community by Design: The Olmsted Firm and the Development of Brookline, Massachusettsfrom LALH. His other publications include Shaping a New American Landscape: The Art and Architecture of Charles A. Platt (Hood Museum of Art, 1995) and Boston Architecture, 1975–1990, coauthored with Naomi Miller (Prestel Verlag GmbH & Co KG., 1996). He is also the editor and a principal author for Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston (University of Virginia Press, 2009) and the architecture editor for The Encyclopedia of New England (Yale University Press, 2005).

“The book is a classic, the expression of enduring landscape values despite nearly a century of evolutionary changes in the profession. . . . [Morgan’s is] a fine essay, scrupulously fair and illuminating.”
—Melanie L. Simo, Journal of the New England Garden History Society