• A portrait of Frederick Law Olmsted, taken around 1860. Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

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    Frederick Law Olmsted
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/NoC-US/1.0/
    • Partner
    • The New York Public Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection. The New York Public Library

  • Frederick Law Olmsted (at left) and Calvert Vaux (second from right) with others responsible for building Central Park, standing on the park's Willowdell Arch, 1862. Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

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    Men standing on Willowdell Arch
    • Date
    • 1862
    • Creator
    • Prevost, Victor (1820-1881).
    • Standardized Rights Statement
    • http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/NoC-US/1.0/
    • Partner
    • The New York Public Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Rare Book Division. The New York Public Library

  • Olmsted advocated that attention be paid to the means of connecting parks and green spaces, coining the term "parkway." This is a plan for a boulevard in Boston, part of the city's Emerald Necklace park system. Courtesy of the Boston Public Library via Digital Commonwealth.

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    Study of plan for the extension of Commonwealth Avenue on the line of Beacon Street
    • Date
    • 1880-1889
    • Creator
    • Olmsted, Frederick Law, 1822-1903
    • Description
    • Oriented with north toward the upper right. Includes section of proposed extension of Commonwealth Avenue on the line of Beacon St., Brookline. From the Office of Aspinwall F.L. & J.C. Olmsted.
    • Rights
    • No known copyright restrictions. No known restrictions on use.
    • Partner
    • Digital Commonwealth
    • Contributing Institution
    • Boston Public Library

  • Between 1889 and 1895, Olmsted designed the grounds of the 125,000 acre Biltmore estate near Asheville, North Carolina. It included formal gardens near the chateau, a pleasure park, and a commercial timber forest. Courtesy of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill via North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.

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    Biltmore, Asheville, N.C
    • Date
    • ca. 1900-1910
    • Creator
    • Lindsey, T. H. (Thomas H.).
    • Description
    • H.C. Leighton Co., Portland, Me. Manufacturers of Postal Cards. No. 32. View of the grounds of Biltmore Estate, showing the house and gardens. The card also reads, "Photo by T.H. Lindsey.".
    • Rights
    • Public domain.
    • Partner
    • North Carolina Digital Heritage Center
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Born in 1822 in Hartford, Connecticut, Frederick Law Olmsted was the son of a prosperous merchant. He did not attend college but rather worked in a wide variety of occupations - seaman, merchant, farmer, journalist and editor.

A journey to Europe to visit many grand parks and a friendship with Andrew Jackson Dowling, a prominent landscape designer, built his interest in parks and their role in an urban society. In 1857, he and Calvert Vaux, an English architect, submitted a design proposal for New York's Central Park and were awarded the commission. The partners coined the term "landscape architect" and the influential Central Park project launched a long and prolific career for Olmsted.

In addition to designing parks throughout the country, Olmsted also completed plans for the grounds of academic institutions, hospitals, zoos, cemeteries, country estates, the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and the US Capitol. During the Civil War he served as executive director of the US Sanitary Commission, a precursor to the Red Cross. His appreciation of landscape and scenic views led to an influential role in the conservation movement, including advocacy for the preservation of natural wonders like Niagara Falls and Yosemite.

Frederick Law Olmsted died in 1903.