Olmsted Action

Wherever Olmsted landscapes are threatened, the Olmsted Network aims to bring a national voice. Over many years, the Olmsted Network has weighed in on the side of local friends groups, park stewards, and the park-loving public to protect and preserve these special places.

Advocacy

Our advocacy works at many levels by educating, engaging, provoking, and ultimately motivating people to care deeply about the cause. We stress that Olmsted landscapes offer both historic value and essential ecological services. These parks and places are not luxuries. They are critical urban infrastructure that contribute to mental and physical wellbeing and community. Once open space is lost, it is lost forever— making advocacy for restorative green space more important than ever!

Do you have an issue you would like us to know about?

Email us at info@olmsted.org to share a potential threat. Please do not wait until your issue is a crisis! Early communications about possible threats will likely evolve into success. While the need to act may arise suddenly, resolution is seldom easy or quickly won. Often, effective advocacy may require long-term actions such as creating a friends group or enlisting national support.

Learn more about our ongoing advocacy below. Development, privatization, uninformed stewardship, climate change, and ecological harm pose ongoing threats to Olmsted parks and places.

Filter By
Franklin Park, Emerald Necklace
Northeast | Boston, MA

Part of the Emerald Necklace, Franklin Park is often considered Olmsted’s final park masterpiece. Currently, there is an opportunity to restore public parkland that was previously lost to development. However, efforts to promote alternative sites— outside Franklin Park— are being met with resistance.

Boulder
West | Boulder, CO

Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. engaged in city planning in the town of Boulder, CO, for more than a decade (1910-1924). Like so many other cities at that time, Boulder sought out the most famous landscape architecture firm of the day, Olmsted Brothers. The 1910 Master Plan by Olmsted defined open space and was instrumental in helping the community transition from a rough mining town to a beautiful residential community.

Downing Park
Northeast | Newburgh, NY

Downing Park is the last great collaboration of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. While the Olmsted Network supports an African American memorial in Newburgh, proposed plans for the memorial in the park raise serious questions concerning project design, footprint, and maintenance, as well as respect for the dead and for the integrity of the park. Robust public engagement is needed before decisions are made.

Mount Royal
International | Montreal

Olmsted’s design for Mount Royal addressed circulation and access— two issues the community continues to debate.

Washington Park
Midwest | Milwaukee, WI

With informed stewardship and greater resources, Washington Park offers an opportunity for revitalization, community development and economic growth.

Rock Creek Park
Mid Atlantic | Washington, DC

Rock Creek Park is the oldest urban national park and an extraordinary natural amenity in the heart of the nation’s capital. By Act of Congress in 1890, the park was established to “give incalculable enjoyment and healthful recreation to the people of the District in future generations.” As the park addresses contemporary use and needs, street closings to high speed traffic can advance Olmsted’s intent.

Jackson Park
Midwest | Chicago, IL

In the greatest setback to Olmsted advocacy in recent years, the Obama Presidential Center is currently under construction in Jackson Park. While supporting a vibrant presidential center, the Olmsted Network opposed construction in the park and remains vigilant in watching potential new threats to the lakeshore, nature preserve and open and accessible public space.

Lake Wales
Southeast | Lake Wales, FL

Uncontrolled development threatens many communities in Florida and around the country. In Lake Wales, city leaders and planners have an opportunity to embrace their Olmsted inheritance and chart a future that advances affordable housing, beautiful design and landscapes that promote mental and physical well-being and ecological health.

Buffalo Olmsted Park System
Northeast | Buffalo, NY

City leaders have an opportunity to restore neighborhoods, advance racial equity and reverse damage done by “urban renewal” with a thoughtful redesign of the Scajaquada Expressway.

Midway Plaisance
Midwest | Chicago, IL

The Midway Plaisance is currently threatened by proposed development that will do ecological damage, undermine Chicago’s ability to address climate change and ignore the needs of underserved communities.

Muddy River, Emerald Necklace
Northeast | Boston, MA

Threatened. The Emerald Necklace is a 1,100-acre linear park system that includes a 7-mile-long chain of parks, parkways and waterways— including the Muddy River. Proposed development in the Fens would cast building shadows, causing irreparable ecological harm, undermine the million-dollar investment in the Muddy River Project and adversely impact the restorative and healthful nature of the park.

Policy Matters & Miscellaneous

When appropriate, the Olmsted Network weighs in on matters of legislative and policy interest.

The National Mall
Mid Atlantic | Washington, DC

Threatened. There are few more iconic landscapes than the National Mall, designed by the McMillan Commission and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. Despite a No Build law adopted by Congress, development continues to threaten this green space for all Americans— reducing the amount of public open space, damaging the ecology and ignoring the masterful design.

Lake Park
Midwest | Milwaukee, WI

The opening of the restored Ravine Bridge in Lake Park underscores the power of informed and engaged friends groups to protect the historic integrity of Olmsted’s designs.

Pinehurst
South | Pinehurst, NC

This golfing community features an exquisite Olmsted design and village green that merit protection and attention.

Arborway, Emerald Necklace
Northeast | Boston, MA

Olmsted’s design of the Emerald Necklace involved a masterful interconnection of parks and parkways. The parkways consist of a series of travel ways. By separating conflicting or incompatible uses, Olmsted intended to give users a safe, efficient and restorative experience. We applaud current efforts by city and state leaders to restore the separation of ways to ensure visitor safety.

Washington State Capitol Grounds
Northwest | Olympia, WA

Threatened. The Washington State Capitol Grounds are one of the most intact Olmsted Brothers designs, meriting respectful attention to the design intent. Ongoing development proposals risk undermining the design integrity and destroying open space.

Fort Tryon Park
Northeast | New York, NY

This master work by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. faces nearby development. Despite extensive advocacy in opposition, an 18-story building was approved for construction along the east side of the Scenic Landmark Park. Now, when you are on the Linden Terrace, you are confronted with the new building instead of the open valley. The new building is also quite visible from the park’s Cloisters Lawn. A second development has advanced at Broadway/Nagle since NYC Planning declined to do contextual zoning for the area of Broadway south of Dyckman Street.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Northeast | Brooklyn, NY

Victory! A well-organized campaign in opposition to proposed development turns back athreatened high rise that would have imposed deadly shadows on the world-famous Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

U.S. Capitol Grounds
Mid Atlantic | Washington, DC

Threatened. Frederick Law Olmsted was the first landscape architect of the U.S. Capitol. Recent plans by Congress would close off a public place intended for all Americans and undermine Olmsted’s intent to create a unique democratic space.

Olmsted-Beil Farmhouse
Northeast | Staten Island, NY

Although a part of the NYC park system, the Olmsted-Beil Farmhouse remains closed and deteriorating. Thanks to a vibrant friends group and support from the Olmsted Network, this iconic home and landscape have recently achieved historic designation. The street adjoining the farmhouse has been co-named Olmsted Way.

Riverside
Midwest | Chicago, IL

Riverside is the only surviving suburban community with the streets, public ways and public grounds that Olmsted planned. It inspired modern American suburban design and must be protected from built features that are antithetical to the design intent.

Fairsted/Green Hill Historic Neighborhood
Northeast | Brookline, MA

Victory! Nationwide campaign by members of Olmsted Network helps save the Henry Hobson Richardson and John Charles Olmsted homes from demolition.

Essex County Park System
Northeast | Newark, NJ

The Olmsteds planned a diverse park system offering pastoral parks and unique scenic reservations. Misguided development would destroy these restorative green spaces in urban New Jersey.

Scarboro, Ontario
Canada

Obtaining historic designation can help preserve unique and restorative landscapes designed by the Olmsted firm in Canada.

Forest Park
Northwest | Portland, OR

Altering the park’s designated use to accommodate special purpose, active recreation violates Olmsted’s intent and current law. Contemplated construction of miles of mountain bike trails would serve a small segment of the local population at great price to the rest, and to the landscape.

Audubon Park
South | New Orleans, LA

Audubon Park is a masterwork of the Olmsted Brothers. This public green space contributes greatly to the city’s unique identity and serves people from all walks of life. Any changes should be mindful of retaining opportunities for active recreation and a beautiful natural setting for informal use and personal rejuvenation.

Volunteer Park
Northwest | Seattle, WA

John C. Olmsted warned about the idea that landscape parks are “merely vacant land awaiting decoration by public buildings.” Construction of a museum in this landscape has privatized the park, severely damaged the design integrity and diminished the public’s ability to enjoy this open greenspace for passive recreation.

Washington Park
Midwest | Chicago, IL

Much like Jackson Park and the Midway Plaisance, Washington Park has faced continuing threats to the vitality of its restorative green space, open to all.