Frederick Law Olmsted: Writings on Landscape, Culture, and Society: (Library of America #270)
The biggest and best single-volume collection ever published of the fascinating and wide-ranging writings of a vitally important nineteenth century cultural figure whose work continues to shape our world today. Seaman, farmer, abolitionist, journalist, administrator, reformer, conservationist, and without question America’s foremost landscape architect and urban planner, Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903) was a man of unusually diverse talents and interests, and the arc of his life and writings traces the most significant developments of nineteenth century American history. As this volume reveals, the wide-ranging endeavors Olmsted was involved in—cofounding The Nation magazine, advocating against slavery, serving as executive secretary to the United States Sanitary Commission (precursor to the Red Cross) during the Civil War, championing the preservation of America’s great wild places at Yosemite and Yellowstone—emerged from his steadfast commitment to what he called “communitiveness,” the impulse to serve the needs of one’s fellow citizens. This philosophy had its ultimate expression is his brilliant designs for some of the country’s most beloved public spaces: New York’s Central Park, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Boston’s “Emerald Necklace,” the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, garden suburbs like Chicago’s Riverside, parkways (a term he invented) and college campuses, the “White City” of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, and many others.
Gathering almost 100 original letters, newspaper dispatches, travel sketches, essays, editorials, design proposals, official reports, reflections on aesthetics, and autobiographical reminiscences, this deluxe Library of America volume is profusely illustrated with a 32-page color portfolio of Olmsted’s design sketches, architectural plans, and contemporary photographs. It also includes detailed explanatory notes and a chronology of Olmsted’s life and design projects.
seemed to me more abominable than the organization for servility, cowardice and general degradation of the representative of the civilized system of religious worship of which this man is the victim. An unskilled laborer here, a man who cannot read and who cannot count twenty, may get the wages of seven hundred dollars a year. This is for eight or ten hours’ labor per diem, after doing which he may earn something more if he is disposed to do more work. This minister’s regular wages under his
common use in every considerable town. Their advantages would be incidental to the general uses of streets as they are. But people are willing very often to seek recreation as well as take it by the way. Provisions may indeed be made expressly for recreation, with certainty that if convenient, they will be used. The various kinds of recreation may be divided primarily under two heads. Under one will be included all of which the predominating influence is to stimulate exertion of any part or
the tendency in large cities to concentration for business purposes and dispersion for domestic purposes is considered. AIDS AND CHECKS TO PROGRESS If a wise despot had undertaken to organize the business of this continent, he would have begun by selecting for his headquarters a point where advantages for direct dealing with all parts of it were combined with advantages for direct dealing with all parts of Europe. He would then have established a series of great and small trading posts,
different from most men whom I knew that as he commanded my respect and affectionate regard, I recognize him to have had a notable influence in my education. The other had inherited a moderate competence and been brought up to no regular calling. He lived in an unusually fine old village house with an old garden, was given to natural science, had a cabinet, a few works of art and a notable small library. He was shy and absorbed and I took little from him directly, but he was kind and not so
at the end of the year 1858, $1,414,000; and no money ever better effected the object of its expenditure, nothing else done under the auspices of the present emperor being regarded by all classes of the people of Paris with such universal admiration and satisfaction. The Bois de Boulogne contains, with the meadow, 2,155 acres, thus divided: wood, 107 acres; open turf, 675; water, 74; roads, 265, nurseries and flower beds, 71. The length of carriage road is 86 miles, varying from 24 feet 6 inches