Tupper Thomas  
Prospect Park Administrator (1980-2011)  
Olmsted Network Board Chair (1988)  

Tupper Thomas was in graduate school at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, when she first heard the name Frederick Law Olmsted. At the time, she had no idea that Olmsted would become a major figure in her life.  

She learned that Olmsted, alongside partner Calvert Vaux, designed Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, a place that, at the time, felt unwelcoming. Some years later, seeing an advertisement for the park’s first administrator, she was intrigued. The rest, as they say, is history: 

“I’ve always said that Olmsted and Vaux were the Disneys of that era because they made Prospect Park suddenly be a place with water. In Brooklyn, we didn’t have streams, we didn’t have rivers, we didn’t have any of that— they just made them on the landscape.”   

In yet another moment of kismet, the inquiring administrator attended a conference hosted by the newly- established National Association for Olmsted Parks, now Olmsted Network. When she walked in, expert Charles E. Beveridge had a lot to say about her landscape.  

“He was showing slides of Prospect Park…And then he said that Prospect Park is the finest example of an Olmsted park because he got his way …. Really, that first great push for Olmsted by the [Olmsted Network] is the one that got me hooked on Olmsted and the philosophies behind his work.” 

Olmsted’s principles have carried Thomas through a long and successful career of championing urban parks. In addition to the 30 years she spent growing Prospect Park Alliance into the powerhouse it is today, she also nurtured the Olmsted Network and City Parks Alliance in their infancies and served as the executive director of New Yorkers for Parks.  

40 years later, Thomas continues to support these organizations and champion Olmsted’s vision of parks for all people.  

“It’s important that people give to things that they believe in,” she said. “I believe strongly in the Olmsted theories. You’re not going to have any more Olmsted parks than you do today. But the continuation of how our parks and open spaces are being used should very much have its background in the Olmsted philosophies.”  

This Women’s History Month, consider donating to the Olmsted Network in honor of Tupper and the women who have dedicated themselves to thriving Olmsted parks and places. Thanks to a generous donor, your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar. Give now: https://bit.ly/donate2olmsted