Frederick Law Olmsted
America’s Landscape Architect
Many families have a “famous” member, one who is widely known outside of the family itself. Ours is Frederick Law Olmsted (FLO), America’s Landscape Architect. On April 26, 2022 the nation will celebrate his 200th birthday with activities at many “FLO designed locations.”
First and foremost, he and his firm is noted for designs of many of America’s Parks and Public Spaces. Central Park in New York City is his best known work but other cities benefited from his influence–Boston, Rochester, Buffalo, Chicago, Louisville, and Seattle jump to mind. He was also involved in saving and preserving areas of national importance–Niagara Falls and Yosemite are prime examples.
FLO was an active social reformer. During the Civil War he campaigned for the health of the troops and the country in general, an outgrowth of which is the US Public Health Service. He was instrumental in community planning, not just parks but design of the entire community–Riverside, Illinois is the best known of these.
Olmsted and/or his firm was hired by many governmental and private organizations as well as individuals. From the NYS capital building in Albany to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC to the campus of Stanford University in California, the Olmsted influence remains today. Lesser known on a national scale but outstanding in local communities are such sites as the Lookout Mountain Resort in Denver. The famous portrait of FLO by John Singer Sargent, that still hangs in Biltmore, was incorporated into the design of a US Postage Stamp in 1999.
The legacy of FLO remains today as many individuals have come to realize that some of the ideas he proposed in his day are still valid today.
An interesting article, Frederick Law Olmsted’s Passion for Parks, was published in the May 2003 issue of National Geographic and his contributions to American society. For a more extensive presentation on FLO see this Wikipedia article.
I am often asked “How do I relate to FLO?” or “Am I related to FLO?” The answer maybe simple or complex, yes or no. FLO is a descendant of the immigrant James (England, 1632). If you are a James descendant, then the simple answer is yes. If you are a descendant of the immigrant Richard (England, 1632), nephew of James, then the answer is a little more complex but yes. If you are a descendant of any other known immigrant line then the answer is no, BUT as you share the heritage of all Olmste(a)ds you have a sense of comradeship with any that bear the name.
Line of Descent: (the numbers are from the 1912 Olmsted Family in America)
James (immigrant) and a founder of Hartford, CT
Nicholas (4*), 1611-1684
Joseph (13*), 1646-1726
Joseph (22*), 1673-1762
Jonathan (75*), 1706-1770
Benjamin (191*), 1750-1832
John (502*), 1791-1873
FLO (1132*), 1822-1903
I will be glad to assist you in determining your own relationship to FLO. If you have a profile on the world-wide single tree at wikitree.com, you will find an easy to use “relation to me” tool that will quickly show your connection to FLO. Otherwise, Walt and I’ll help you.
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and Olmste(a)d Family Association, 2017-2023