Frederick Law Olmsted is arguably the most important historical figure that the average American knows the least about. Best remembered for his landscape architecture, from New York's Central Park to Boston's Emerald Necklace to Stanford University's campus, Olmsted was also an influential journalist, early voice for the environment, and abolitionist credited with helping dissuade England from joining the South in the Civil War. This momentous career was shadowed by a tragic personal life, also fully portrayed here.
Most of all, he was a social reformer. He didn't simply create places that were beautiful in the abstract. An awesome and timeless intent stands behind Olmsted's designs, allowing his work to survive to the present day. With our urgent need to revitalize cities and a widespread yearning for green space, his work is more relevant now than it was during his lifetime. Justin Martin restores Olmsted to his rightful place in the pantheon of great Americans.
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The Man who shaped America
I had first heard of F L Olmsted when I saw a painting by John Singer Sargent. Then heard of him again in "The Devil and White City" where he did the landscaping for the 1893 Exhibition. So to find out that he had done so many places in America; he was the "Lancelot (Capability) Brown" of America
The fact that he was a Polymath was more than I expected. And where it says in the book that he wished he had found that Landscape Architect was his calling and did not want his son to waste time on other employment. But, it was the life experience that had shaped him and also America.
Richard Ferrone as always delivered a 5 star performance with his warm and clear voice. I have now searched out one of my unheard books read by him,
The Olmsted Legacy
I alread knew that he had come to England and the rest of Europe for inspiration, and recognised parts of Central Park that had been born from these journeys; and I loved the way he described his parks as the lungs of the city. As with all Polymaths his health suffered at the end, so sad