Friday, April 26, 2013

April 26 - Frederick Law Olmsted

April 26, 1882, is the birthdate of landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted. Born in Hartford, Connecticut, he initially held a variety of jobs, including sailor in the China trade, farmer and reporter for what is now the New York Times. With no college education and no formal training in landscape design, he and English-born architect Calvert Vaux won a design competition for New York’s Central Park in 1858 (known as their “Greensward Plan”). Innovations included "separate circulation" for pedestrians, horseback riders and vehicles, with crosstown traffic hidden in sunken roads and a formal Mall focused on the Bethesda Fountain. Much of the Park’s topsoil came from New Jersey. Olmsted later designed Brooklyn’s Prospect Park (with Vaux) and at least 550 commissioned projects, including many Chicago parks, Boston’s Emerald Necklace, the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, and college campuses from Stanford and Berkeley to Cornell and Colgate. He was also a key figure in the preservation of Yosemite Valley.

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