New digital guide pays tribute to landscape architecture pioneer Frederick Law Olmsted

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New digital guide pays tribute to landscape architecture pioneer Frederick Law Olmsted

Celebrating the bicentennial of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., known as “the father of landscape architecture”, the Cultural Landscape Foundation has created a ever-changing digital guide of Olmsted’s most notable works. The illustrated guide features more than 300 landscapes across North America, including Canada and 30 U.S. states, as well as stories from practitioners who worked for, with, or were otherwise associated with Olmsted, Sr. and his successor companies .

Mount Vernon Square, Baltimore, MD, 2017. Courtesy Eli Pousson-Flickr.  Image courtesy of the Cultural Landscape FoundationStanford University, Stanford, California, 2011. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.  Image courtesy of the Cultural Landscape FoundationUniversity of Washington, Seattle, WA, 2017. Photo by Steve Ginn.  Image courtesy of the Cultural Landscape FoundationProspect Park, Brooklyn, NY, 2020. Photo © Barrett Doherty.  Image courtesy of the Cultural Landscape Foundation+ 10

Entitled “What’s there Olmsted“, the guide sheds light on the architect’s legacy through a searchable database of North American landscapes and 100 biographical entries about the Olmsted family and the company’s many employees, consultants and collaborators. For more than 100 years, Olmsted, Sr. and his companies have shaped cities, parks, scenic preserves, residential neighborhoods, and government, cultural, and academic campuses, such as North Carolina’s grand Biltmore Estate, the Mountain Park System Colorado near Denver, the United States Capitol grounds and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, Stanford University in California and Yosemite National Park, and Mount Royal in Canada.

University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 2017. Photo by Steve Ginn.  Image courtesy of the Cultural Landscape Foundation
University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 2017. Photo by Steve Ginn. Image courtesy of the Cultural Landscape Foundation

What’s Out There Olmsted sites range from National Historic Landmarks to lesser-known gardens, parks and comprehensive plans, as well as a concise 250-word description of the site, drop-down menus with information about site typology (e.g. park public, suburban, etc.), style (e.g. Picturesque, Beaux-Arts/Neoclassical, etc.), designers and related landscapes. The guide also features a media gallery with four to ten images and, if available, a companion video, all of which can be searched geographically by region, state, city, zip code and up to 100 miles from a specific postal code.

Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, 2020. Photo © Barrett Doherty.  Image courtesy of the Cultural Landscape Foundation
Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, 2020. Photo © Barrett Doherty. Image courtesy of the Cultural Landscape Foundation

Stories of those who worked with, for and after Olmsted to create these memorable landscapes include Warren Manning, who worked for Olmsted, Sr. for eight years on more than 1,700 projects, including estates, parks and systems of parks, city plans, campus plans, subdivisions, golf courses and institutional land. Arthur Shurcliff, who specialized in restoring the first commons in American cities, also shared his stories, along with Massachusetts native William Lyman Phillips, who worked with the Olmsted Brothers for decades, and Stella Obst, who spent forty years with Olmsted Brothers. working closely with Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.

Washington Park, Chicago, Illinois, 2009. Photo by LKucas Blair.  Image courtesy of the Cultural Landscape Foundation
Washington Park, Chicago, Illinois, 2009. Photo by LKucas Blair. Image courtesy of the Cultural Landscape Foundation

What’s there Olmsted is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and Educational Partners Olmsted 200 and the American Society of Landscape Architects. This project is TCLF’s twentieth digital project What’s Out There City and Area Guide, (including six guides produced in partnership with the National Park Service). What’s Out There Olmsted is optimized for smartphones and includes What’s Near, a GPS-enabled feature that locates all landscapes within a given distance.

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