Frederick Law Olmsted

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903) was, at turns, a scientific farmer, journalist, park administrator, publisher, public health commissioner, and conservationist, but his contributions to the field of landscape architecture alone would have secured him a reputation as one of the most influential figures of the nineteenth century. Olmsted’s career as a landscape architect began in 1856 when Calvert Vaux persuaded him to enter the competition for the new Central Park in New York City. He and Vaux went on to design Prospect Park in Brooklyn, an extensive park system for Buffalo, New York, and the town of Riverside, outside Chicago.

Fairsted, Olmsted’s Brookline, Massachusetts, practice initially included Charles Eliot, and later his stepson, John Charles, and son, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., with whom he designed major park systems, university campuses, and suburbs throughout the nation. He and Vaux teamed up one last time to write the plan for the new Niagara Reservation in 1887. Olmsted’s Yosemite Report, written in 1865, established the intellectual basis for a national park system.