The ‘godfather of landscape architecture’ now graces Beardsley Park in Bridgeport


BRIDGEPORT – Frederick Law Olmsted’s projects include some of the country’s most famous landmarks, including New York’s Central Park and the United States Capitol grounds.

But to residents of Bridgeport, the Hartford native is best known for creating two of the most well-known attractions – Seaside Park and Beardsley Park – in the aptly named Park City.

“Frederick Olmsted is an important part of Bridgeport’s history,” said Lynn Haig, Bridgeport planning director. “We are really proud to have two Olmsted Parks here in Bridgeport.”

Haig and other local and state officials were in Beardsley Park on Tuesday for the unveiling of a bust of Olmsted, created by artist Louise Wiley. The bust was in honor of Olmsted’s 200th birthday next year.

The sculpture sits just inside Beardsley Park, from where Beverly Place meets Route 127 (also known as East Main Street). Its addition was part of a long road improvement project to East Main Street that began in 2020.

The goal of the project was to improve safety on the section of East Main Street between Evers Street and Beverly Place. The project included improving sightlines on the road, adding a sidewalk to the area and other changes.

During Tuesday’s inauguration, Department of Transportation commissioner Joseph Giulietti called Olmsted a “national godfather of landscape architecture” and praised the work being done on East Main Street.

“When real partnerships exist, we all win,” he said.

Attendees at the event also included representatives from the State Historic Preservation Office and the Connecticut Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Todd Levine, of the State Historic Preservation Office, said one of the goals of the Olmsted bust was to bring something special to Beardsley Park.

“We wanted a monument that could be found as easily in Central Park as it was in Beardsley Park in Bridgeport,” he said.

According to the plaque on the new statue, Olmsted originally designed Beardsley Park in the 1880s and the design was completed by his sons in the early 20th century. Olmsted died in 1903.

Wiley said she made Olmsted’s bust out of clay and then it was cast in bronze. The process took about four to five months, she said, and the resulting artwork weighs around 120 pounds.

She said the Society of Connecticut Sculptors posted an ad looking for someone to do the Olmsted piece, and she applied. Wiley said she had known Olmsted’s work for a long time and was thrilled to be selected for the project.

“It’s a great honor,” she said.


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