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Books

Boston’s Franklin Park
Olmsted, Recreation, and the Modern City

Ethan Carr
Afterword by Gary Hilderbrand

Boston’s Franklin Park  Cover Image

About the Author


Ethan Carr, FASLA

Ethan Carr, FASLA, is professor of landscape architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an international authority on America’s public landscapes. He is author of Wilderness by Design: Landscape Architecture and the National Park ServiceMission 66: Modernism and the National Park Dilemma, and The Greatest Beach: A History of Cape Cod National Seashore, coauthor of Olmsted and Yosemite: Civil War, Abolition, and the National Park Idea, lead editor of Public Nature: Scenery, History, and Park Design, and coeditor of Volume 8 of The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted

Boston’s Franklin Park
Olmsted, Recreation, and the Modern City

Ethan Carr
Afterword by Gary Hilderbrand

Library of American Landscape History

ISBN: 978-1-952620-38-6 Page Count: Not Available
Price: Not Available Forthcoming: 04/04/2024

Frederick Law Olmsted designed Franklin Park in 1885 as the centerpiece of the Boston park system that later became known as the Emerald Necklace. Often cited with Central Park (1858) and Prospect Park (1865) as one of the three most important “large parks” he designed, Franklin Park was also the most mature expression of Olmsted’s ideas for urban park design and the most expansive and complete pastoral landscape he was able to achieve during his career. 

This book is the first full historical treatment of Franklin Park, providing the analysis that confirms its place as one of the great works of nineteenth-century American art. Illuminating the history of the park and its popularity in the early twentieth century, Ethan Carr also describes its decline and the new plans for its renewal, as the City of Boston, working with the surrounding neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, and Jamaica Plain, commits funding and expertise to assure that Franklin Park continues to improve the lives of the people it was created for. 

If Franklin Park is one of Olmsted’s most accomplished designs, it is also one of his least well understood and appreciated. As the park enters a new era of revival, a reconsideration of its origins and history offers timely context for a fresh appraisal of Olmsted’s mature park practice.

An afterword by the landscape architect Gary Hilderbrand chronicles the park’s more recent history as a place to gather and celebrate, and to protest social and racial injustices. He describes the goals of the Franklin Park Action Plan, which his Boston-based firm, Reed Hilderbrand, is creating in collaboration with many other consultants. The plan, Hilderbrand writes, will guide the park’s revitalization “as a democratic ground for shared exchange and peaceful engagement, in ways that Olmsted anticipated, and in ways he did not.”

About the Author


Ethan Carr, FASLA

Ethan Carr, FASLA, is professor of landscape architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an international authority on America’s public landscapes. He is author of Wilderness by Design: Landscape Architecture and the National Park ServiceMission 66: Modernism and the National Park Dilemma, and The Greatest Beach: A History of Cape Cod National Seashore, coauthor of Olmsted and Yosemite: Civil War, Abolition, and the National Park Idea, lead editor of Public Nature: Scenery, History, and Park Design, and coeditor of Volume 8 of The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted