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Frederick Law Olmsted: plans and views of public parks

Frederick Law Olmsted

A superb visual overview of the major public parks designed by the foremost landscape architect in American history.

Winner, John Brinkerhoff Jackson Book Prize, Foundation for Landscape Architecture, FY16

Lavishly illustrated with over 470 images—129 of them in color—this book reveals Frederick Law Olmsted's design concepts for more than seventy public park projects through a rich collection of sketches, studies, lithographs, paintings, historical photographs, and comprehensive descriptions. Bringing together Olmsted's most significant parks, parkways, park systems, and scenic reservations, this gorgeous volume takes readers on a uniquely conceived tour of such notable landscapes as Central Park, Prospect Park, the Buffalo Park and Parkway System, Washington Park and Jackson Park in Chicago, Boston's "Emerald Necklace," and Mount Royal in Montreal, Quebec. No such guide to Olmsted's parks has ever been published.

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903) planned many parks and park systems across the United States, leaving an enduring legacy of designed public space that is enjoyed and defended today. His public parks, the design of which he was most proud, have had a lasting effect on urban America.

This gorgeous book will appeal to landscape professionals, park administrators, historians, architects, city planners, and students—and it is a perfect gift for Olmsted aficionados throughout North America.

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Frederick Law Olmsted: designing America

A biography of the man who made public parks an essential part of American life. He made enormous contributions to the American landscape, a park was both a work of art and a necessity for urban life. Olmsted's efforts to preserve nature created an 'environmental ethic' decades before the environmental movement became a force in American politics.

Narrated by Stockard Channing.

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Central Park, An American Masterpiece

Marking Central Park's 150th anniversary, this is a history of America's first public park and a paragon of 19th-century landscape design. Sara Cedar Miller, the official historian and photographer for the Central Park Conservancy, draws on extensive research to tell the story of the park's creation, placing it in the context of 19th-century American art and social history, and illuminating the roles of its designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux and their associate Jacob Wrey Mould. Period views and originals plans and drawings are complemented by Miller's photographs, which show the restored park's glory.

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Architects of an American Landscape: Henry Hobson Richardson, Frederick Law Olmsted, and the and the reimagining of Americas public and private spaces

Hugh Howard

A dual portrait of America's first great architect, Henry Hobson Richardson, and her finest landscape designer, Frederick Law Olmsted--and their immense impact on America

As the nation recovered from a cataclysmic war, two titans of design profoundly influenced how Americans came to interact with the built and natural world around them through their pioneering work in architecture and landscape design.

Frederick Law Olmsted is widely revered as America's first and finest parkmaker and environmentalist, the force behind Manhattan's Central Park, Brooklyn's Prospect Park, Biltmore's parkland in Asheville, dozens of parks across the country, and the preservation of Yosemite and Niagara Falls. Yet his close friend and sometime collaborator, Henry Hobson Richardson, has been almost entirely forgotten today, despite his outsized influence on American architecture--from Boston's iconic Trinity Church to Chicago's Marshall Field Wholesale Store to the Shingle Style and the wildly popular "open plan" he conceived for family homes. Individually they created much-beloved buildings and public spaces. Together they married natural landscapes with built structures in train stations and public libraries that helped drive the shift in American life from congested cities to developing suburbs across the country.

The small, reserved Olmsted and the passionate, Falstaffian Richardson could not have been more different in character, but their sensibilities were closely aligned. In chronicling their intersecting lives and work in the context of the nation's post-war renewal, Hugh Howard reveals how these two men created original all-American idioms in architecture and landscape that influence how we enjoy our public and private spaces to this day.

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A Modern Arcadia: Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. & the plan for Forest Hills Gardens

Susan L. Klaus

"Bright, cheerful houses, well arranged, well trimmed lawns, hedging carefully cut... distinctly joyous," wrote architectural critic Herbert Croly in 1914 about the Forest Hills Gardens community in Queens, New York. The New York Tribune agreed, reporting that the place was a "modern Garden of Eden, a fairy tale too good to be true."

Conceived as an experiment that would apply the new "science" of city planning to a suburban setting, Forest Hills Gardens was created by the Russell Sage Foundation to provide housing for middle-class commuters as an alternative to cramped flats in New York City. Although it has long been recognized as one of the most influential planned communities in the United States, this is the first time Forest Hills Gardens has been the subject of a book.


Susan L. Klaus's illustrated history chronicles the creation of the 142-acre development from its inception in 1909 through its first two decades, offering critical insights into American planning history, landscape architecture, and the social and economic forces that shaped housing in the Progressive Era.

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The Devil in the White City

Erik Larson

Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America’s rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country’s most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his “World’s Fair Hotel” just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium. Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.

The Devil in the White City draws the reader into a time of magic and majesty, made all the more appealing by a supporting cast of real-life characters, including Buffalo Bill, Theodore Dreiser, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and others. In this book the smoke, romance, and mystery of the Gilded Age come alive as never before.

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Olmsted and America's urban parks

Olmsted and America's Urban Parks, examines the visionary urban planner and landscape architect's impact on the development of America's first great city parks. Told in large part through Olmsted's own words, this film weaves together his poignant personal story and pioneering vision with contemporary footage of the lasting masterpieces he left behind.

Features Kevin Kline as the voice of Frederick Law Olmsted.

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Frederick Law Olmsted: essential texts

Frederick Law Olmsted

Often called the father of landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted was responsible for the design of Central Park and Prospect Park in New York City; Mount Royal Park in Montreal; the Belle Isle Park in Detroit; the Grand Necklace of Parks in Milwaukee; the Cherokee Park and entire parks system in Louisville, KY; and the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, to name a few of his most famous projects. His landscape works are enjoyed in 25 states and 3 Canadian provinces. Most of these parks were created during and immediately after the Civil War. This title presents the opportunity to witness the evolution of Olmsted's design and social philosophies during a time of upheaval in American history.

Sixteen selections, dating from the 1850s to the 1890s, reveal Frederick Law Olmsted's youthful interests as well as his mature thinking on cities, small residential sites, the history and theory of urban parks, and landscape architecture in general. His writings directly addressed important issues of his day, but they remain as cogent as ever in today's environmental crisis.

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Park Maker: a life of Frederick Law Olmstead

Elizabeth Stevenson

On April 28, 1858, municipal officials announced the winner of the design contest for a great new park for the people of New York City--Plan no. 33, "Greensward" by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. Though the appropriated ground for what was to become Central Park was nothing more than a barren expanse occupied by squatters, in a matter of a few years, Olmsted turned the wasteland into a landscape of coherence, elegance, and beauty. It not only surpassed the design ingenuity of its existing European counterparts but gained the designer national acclaim in a profession that still lacked a name.

Olmsted was an American visionary. He foresaw the day when New York and many other growing cities of the mid-nineteenth century would be plagued by what we presently term "urban sprawl." And he was convinced of the critical importance of adapting land for the recreational and contemplative needs of city dwellers before the last remnants of natural terrain were engulfed by "monotonous, straight streets and piles of erect, angular buildings." As a result of his early efforts to revolutionize the design of public parks, many cities today are able to preserve the recreational space and greenery within their urban limits. In addition, his thoughts and words on wilderness areas still echo across a century of preservation in the wild.

This lively and insightful account of his prodigious life features many of his outstanding landscape projects, including the Biltmore Estate, Prospect Park (Brooklyn), the capitol grounds in Washington, DC, the Boston Park System, the Chicago parks and the Chicago World Fair, as well as measures to preserve the natural settings at Niagara Falls, Yosemite, and the Adirondacks. It traces his early years and describes events that were to form his artistic, intellectual, and deeply humanistic sensibilities. And it restores this lost American hero to his prominent place in history. In addition to being the acknowledged father of American landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted helped shape the political and philosophical climate of America in his own time and today.

Elizabeth Stevenson is the author of the Bancroft Award-winning Henry Adams: A Biography; The Glass Lark, a biography of Lafcadio Hearn; and Babbitts and Bohemians: From the Great War to the Great Depression, all available from Transaction.

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A Green Place to Be: the creation of Central Park

In 1858, New York City was growing so fast that new roads and tall buildings threatened to swallow up the remaining open space. The people needed a green place to be- a park with ponds to row on and paths for wandering through trees and over bridges. When a citywide contest solicited plans for creating a park out of barren swampland, Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted put their heads together to create the winning design, and the hard work of making their plans a reality began. By winter, the lake opened for skating. By the next summer, the waterside woodland known as the Ramble opened for all to enjoy. Meanwhile, sculptors, stonemasons, and master gardeners joined in to construct thirty-four unique bridges, along with fountains, pagodas, and band shells, making New York's Central Park a green gift to everyone.

Based on the book by Ashley Benham Yazdani

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