2022 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted, a social reformer and the founder of American landscape architecture. From birthday parties to history presentations, the world came together to #CelebrateOlmsted. Perhaps most importantly, Olmsted 200 sparked a renewal of interest in Olmsted parks and places — and Olmstedian principles like parks for all people. Conservancies and government agencies, friends groups, and individual volunteers made investments in these places and established public-private partnerships.
The following represents a sampling of the wonderful things going on across the country in honor of Olmsted and his 200th birthday!
Earlier this year, Highland Park Conservancy in Rochester, New York, launched a campaign to reconstruct Olmsted’s beloved Children’s Pavilion. Dedicated in 1890, the three-story, open-air structure was located at the high point of the park and served as a landmark on the skyline until its demolition in 1963. Only two days after Olmsted’s 200th birthday, Monroe County Executive Adam Bello announced that the Parks Department would reconstruct the pavilion in its original location and style— but with an elevator for universal access. In addition to funding from Monroe County and the State of New York, the conservancy plans to contribute over one million dollars in private donations. Learn more about this Olmsted park system by reading this blog post and this blog post. To learn more about the Highland Park Conservancy’s successful campaign to reconstruct the pavilion, click here. See Olmsted Online: Job No. 01104.
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Olmsted parks and places have received some much-needed attention. The Ravine Bridge in Lake Park was restored to its original design, recreating critical connections along the lakeshore. In Washington Park, state and local officials are reexamining a decades-old freeway that divided the park, destroying neighborhoods, and stifling economic development. This announcement follows an unveiling of the Olmsted Way, a street in the park now named in honor of Olmsted and a special exhibit, dedicated to Olmsted in Milwaukee called In the Park with Olmsted: A Vision for Milwaukee. To learn more about Lake Park, click here. To learn more about Washington Park, read this blog. See Olmsted Online: Job No. 01653 and Job No. 01652
In Palo Alto, California, Stanford University is returning to its Olmsted designs to ensure connectivity and sustainability in its semi-arid landscape. Learn more about Stanford’s Olmsted designs in this blog. See Olmsted Online: Job No. 01032
In Baltimore, Maryland, a new park is being developed with Olmsted’s design principles in mind. The Roland Park Community Foundation (RPCF) recently announced the purchase of 20 acres for a new park. Dubbed Hillside Park, the public greenspace will be designed in the style of Frederick Law Olmsted. The park creators were inspired by Olmsted’s tenet of designing parks for all people as well as the surrounding neighborhood’s connection to the Olmsted Brothers firm. Hillside Park is believed to be the largest new public park in Baltimore City in over 100 years. We encourage you to read this blog post and watch this video from RPCF for more information on the park.
In Hartford, Connecticut, the birthplace of Olmsted, Trinity College is establishing an arboretum on campus, and local officials and academics are exploring ways to protect old-growth floodplain and riparian forests by designating them for conservation. Learn more about Trinity College here. See Olmsted Online: Job No. 00601
In Long Island, New York, Planting Fields Foundation has revitalized the Olmsted-designed landscape by replacing an ailing beech allee with native white oaks, realizing the design intent and promoting carbon sequestration and biodiversity. The project pursues a sustainable plant palette that will require less intensive maintenance and perform well in the changing climate. See Olmsted Online: Job No. 06645
In upstate New York, the state is investing millions of dollars in the reunification of Buffalo’s park system after it was divided by an expressway over three decades ago. Several other projects are underway, too, including the restoration of Olmsted’s iconic Grand Staircase. Buffalo boasts one of Olmsted’s four park systems. To learn more about the parks, read this blog. See Olmsted Online: Job No. 00700
As we mentioned, these are only a handful of the wonderful investments happening across the country. Olmsted landscapes are not projects for a day or a week. These are long-term projects that require dedication and sustained support, and we will continue to report on them in 2023 and beyond.
Olmsted 200 will run through April 2023, when we mark Olmsted’s 201st birthday!