But, writes urban studies professor and accomplished author Witold Rybczynski, Olmsted was an American original, a 19th-century success story who packed many careers and wide learning and travel into a long life. He spent time in China and Europe, managed a California gold mine, edited The Nation, commanded a medical unit in the Civil War, and crisscrossed the United States many times over, writing long reports and articles all the while. (One series of reports urged, for instance, that the then-remote Yosemite region of California be made a national park.) Olmsted, Rybczynski suggests, changed the face of America: he had a vision of the American landscape as a reflection of the national character, with its broad vistas and open skies, and he was concerned to make America's urban spaces livable, bringing "trees and greenery into the congested grid of streets." At Olmsted's urging, many American and Canadian cities adopted his system of parks, broad avenues, and greenways, which encouraged the appreciation and preservation of nature; his influence is felt today in the so-called urban ecology movement, and in dozens of public spaces across the continent.
Rybczynski's fine and illuminating biography of Olmsted shows him to have been a man of many parts, an important historical figure whose legacy remains strong nearly a century after his death. --Gregory McNamee
This is a wonderful biography of a great American... well written, a great read :)Published 4 months ago by Hazelcloud
If you've been to big cities or well-known landmarks in America, you've probably been where Frederick Law Olmsted left his mark. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Avid Reader
Good book but it turned out I wasn't as interested in the park as I expected. Good writer.Published 6 months ago by toilet guy
Very fascinating man. A well written story of Frederick Law Olmsted's life, a man of many talents that added such beauty to our lives.Published 6 months ago by Lorna Champagne
This is an extraordinary book! I highly recommend it to readers as it tells of the life of a famous landscape architect. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Roland Droitsch
Most know of F.L. Omsted as a landscape artist, responsible for the design of such places as Boston Back Bay Fens, NYC Central Park, and the design of Yosemite National Park. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Alan G. Elze