Edited by Robert Twombly
W.W. Norton & Company, $24.95, 344 pages
Frederick Law Olmsted is usually considered the best landscape architect of the United States. Often thought of as the first real landscape architect long before it was even considered a real discipline, he helped build a profession that many people still thought was unnecessary. Olmsted wandered European gardens and brought many ideas back to the United States. He designed Central Park in New York, a chain of parks in Boston and Washington D.C., and he helped design San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and the landscaping at the Chicago’s World Fair. Olmsted was instrumental in helping to create park systems in cities across the United States. He felt that parks should be a place to escape from the hectic world and should be in every major city.
His work and his writings have greatly influenced modern landscape architects. In Frederick Law Olmsted: Essential Texts, we get to hear from the man himself through this collection of his writings from various magazines and newspapers of his time. He relates his ideas and thoughts on gardens, the cities of Chicago and New York, the size of cities, and much more. His 19th century writing style may be a bit off for modern readers, but it is well worth the read.
Reviewed by Kevin Winter