Frederick Law Olmsted
Frederick Law Olmsted was born in Hartford, Connecticut on April 16, 1822. In 1848, his father bought him a farm on Staten Island, where he spent the next eight years conducting experiments in scientific agriculture. Olmsted visited Europe three times during the 1850s, studying city parks and other landscapes. A journalist, social critic, and public administrator, Olmsted wrote for Putnam’s Monthly Magazine, a literary journal, and he co-founded the magazine The Nation.
In 1857, he collaborated with Calvert Vaux to enter a design competition for Central Park in New York City. They won, and Olmsted and Vaux collaborated on other projects, including city parks, residential neighborhoods, and academic campuses. After the Civil War, they founded a company that specialized in park design. Olmsted believed that preserving nature in urban spaces created a positive environment that would foster good citizenship. His final project was George W. Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate, near Asheville, North Carolina. He retired in 1895, passing his firm on to his son, Frederick Jr., and step-son John Charles.