April 26, 2022 marked the 200 anniversary of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted, the master designer of public parks and a founder of the field landscape architecture. Frederick Law Olmsted was a visionary for his time, believing that accessible public space was not a nicety but a necessity.
Join historian and filmmaker Laurence Cotton (originator of and consulting producer to the PBS special “Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America”) as he does a deep dive into the remarkable life and career of the Renaissance-man Olmsted–writer, philosopher, social reformer, advocate for the preservation of natural scenery, and creator of some of the most beautiful public and private parks and gardens in all of N. America. In his presentation, Laurence will talk about the influences of design traditions, aesthetics and philosophies that influenced Olmsted’s thought—including English garden design, the Hudson River School and Transcendentalism. Laurence will also give a visual tour of representative masterful landscapes designed by Olmsted, Senior, as well as his two sons and the Olmsted Bros. landscape architecture firm, as the footprint of their works literally stretch across the entire continent of N. America, with something of a focus the Midwest and Great Lakes States.
Laurence Cotton, currently based in Portland, Oregon, a city that benefits from an Olmsted-master planned park system, originally hails from Boston, renowned for its Olmsted landscapes and the home base for generations of landscape design practitioners working for the Olmsted Bros. firm. A practicing public historian, and writer/producer of historical films for PBS, Mr. Cotton was trained as a cultural anthropologist and brings that lens to bear on much of his work. He has worked with the tribal populations on throughout the Columbia River watershed and has also worked on open space acquisition and the designs of parks and trails in Pacific Northwest. He also brings training as an interpretive naturalist, is a birder and a photographer.
Preview a timeline of Frederick Law Olmsted’s life at Olmsted200.org or by clicking the image below.
Through events, education and advocacy at the local and national levels, Olmsted 200 ensures that Olmsted’s legacy lives on by renewing public and policy commitments to the preservation and maintenance of our historic parks and places. From conferences to events, #Olmsted200 has an array of activities like this one to introduce you to Frederick Law Olmsted, the founder of American landscape architecture. View more events across the U.S. here.
(image at top of page of Hanna Garden, designed by the Olmsted Brothers company in 1918)