Frederick Law Olmsted

Frederick Law Olmsted

Inducted 1982

Born in 1822 at the threshold of the Industrial Revolution, Frederick Law Olmsted was a man ahead of his time. A pioneer landscape architect best known for designing New York's Central Park, Olmsted was also a champion of California's Yosemite Valley years before it became a National Park. Under Olmsted's direction as administrator of Central Park, more than 2,000 workers installed miles of ducts to create a lake, hauled ton after ton of topsoil to create the impression of pastoral meadows, and planted thousands of trees to screen out the burgeoning metropolis.

At the same time, Olmsted fought off developers and halted the efforts by notoriously corrupt city officials to install political favorites within the park staff. Olmsted's success in New York led to a busy career as a planner of other urban parks, including Franklin Park in Boston, Chicago's Jackson Park, and the Capitol grounds in Washington, DC. Even when he worked beyond the confines of the city, developing the first operating plans for Yosemite Park and Niagara Falls, Olmsted used the same basic principles of design, which emphasized natural beauty and accessibility for all. Thanks to Olmsted's vision and creative genius, America has a little bit of nature left in many of its most urban places.

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