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Talk:Frederick Law Olmsted

edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Frederick Law Olmsted:
  • Expand Other commissions of Olmsted to include as many of Olmsted's works as is reasonable.

I understand that one of Olmsted's projects was the landscape design for the Haviland estate outside of Limoges, France. The Haviland family owned the Haviland china factory in Limoges. Citation 12 is a dead link.

Priority 3

Highlighting of one city's works by OlmstedEdit

I guess I'm at a loss here. Why are Buffalo's parks really any more special than Olmsted's other great works? He completed a major parks/parkway system in Louisville, so why can't that also be promoted? And that's my point-- that Buffalo is getting unfair promotion here at the expense of others. — Stevie is the man! Talk | Contrib 15:04, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Being an on-again-off-again contributer to this article I tend to agree with you, Stevie My Man. Perhaps much of this Buffalo stuff could be moved to an article on the Buffalo Park its self. There is no reason why the Buffalo Park System can't be its own article and include all this information. But it [opinion] does make the Olmstead piece a bit lopsided. Carptrash 17:45, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)
How about this content be moved to Buffalo, New York or we create a new article List of Frederick Law Olmsted's works (or something similar)? — Stevie is the man! Talk | Contrib 02:59, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I think I like Commissions of Frederick Law Olmsted instead. Sound good? I think I may create a stub article for this soon. — Stevie is the man! Talk | Contrib 17:56, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I did not intend to unfairly promote any area over any other. I simply thought that an example of a park system created by FLO would be appropriate, and why not use the largest intact system as that example? Currently all of the parks and parkways listed from Buffalo have no pages of their own, but it is my (longterm) plan to complete pages for these as well. IMHO, it seems to deepen the understanding of how much work he put into these types of systems. For someone who had never seen a city wide system of this magnitude, they may read "system of parks and parkways" and have no idea of what that really means. I edited the artical to downplay Buffalo a bit and make it more odvious that Buffalo is only an example of his work. Let me know what you think... --T.C. 03:12, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)
How about (again) we place this info and info about all of Olmsted's parks into a new article? Then we can point to that article from this one. How about it? — Stevie is the man! Talk | Contrib 03:21, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I simply do not agree with making a separate page for the commissions of FLO. In doing so you would have to remove most of this article as it would become redundant (which I believe was your original complaint with my addition). If you look at other pages of simular people you will not see such separate pages, and the majority of their articles speak to their works. In fact, if you look at the page for Daniel Burnham, you will see that most of the page focuses on Chicago, and if you look at the page for Calvert Vaux, who was partners with FLO, you will see many of the same Buffalo works shown there. I still think that it makes sense to use an example of the scope of the work that FLO did and Buffalo is a perfect example. If somehow you still find it unacceptable, possibly moving the list of Buffalo works into the 'Selected Commissions' section would be viewed as less promotional. --T.C. 02:16, 17 Feb 2005 (UTC)
TC: You had me going until you brought in Daniel Burnham. Most of his article is about Chicago because he was from Chicago, his office was there and the majority of his commissions were there. The same can not be claimed [well, maybe it can be claimed, but . . . . . . . ....] about FLO and Buffalo. It's not so much that all this should go in an article about "FLO in Buffalo" as it should just be included, be just a section, of the greater Buffalo article. Carptrash 03:27, 17 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I've been a contributor to Wikipedia for about a year, and there are many many examples of articles that list things as a breakapart from a main article. However, in this case, you might be right that we could include the entire list of commissions within this article, for now. I don't see a good enough reason to highlight the Buffalo commissions at the expense of others... just because they're the "largest intact". There are many ways to differentiate these works that one could elevate other FLO works above the ones in Buffalo. — Stevie is the man! Talk | Contrib 17:14, 17 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I agree with you that there are many ways to break things down that could make any widget or in this case place appear to stand out from the widgets. It was not my intent to make Buffalo somehow stand out above the other works of FLW, however I though that it seemed necessary to include an example of FLO's work. To me without it, it sort of seems like big deal so this was some guy who made a few parks around the what? I guess that the difference between my POV and your POV is that you see this as some type of Buffalo promotion, while I just see it as a way to highlight the scale on which FLO worked. It was a huge undertaking and Olmsted even lived in Buffalo for years while he worked on it. I'll remove the 'largest intact' part of the passage in an effort to try to be less promotional. --T.C. 04:08, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I still think we should add all his commissions. Why not? It's informative. — Stevie is the man! Talk | Contrib 04:15, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Well there is a pretty good list [I did a lot of it myself] of his other commissions, but feel free to add to it. However, if we are going to accept this Buffalo thing [could this be where the word "buffaloed" comes from?] Let's do it right [write?]. Using the word "create' three times won't do, and having 'entire' twice is not much better. So i changed those. And TC, why don't you register with wikipedia so that you are . . .. more of a somebody, rather than a disenbodied point of view? It is interesting to note that while Olmstead's Buffalo commission takes up perhaps 20% of the vertical size of the article, it rates less than one page out of about 200 in Hall's book. Carptrash 08:12, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)


I think/feel [think/feel, think/feel, think/feel] that arranging the reference chronologically is not a good idea. Bibliographies, and this is really what this list is, are ALWAYS arranged alphabetically by the authors’ last names. Which is what I'm about to do here unless someone arrives with a good counter point real soon . Carptrash 19:18, 17 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Go for it. — Stevie is the man! Talk | Contrib 21:41, 17 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Olmsted wrote quite a few books.[1] of which only one is cited while others are alluded to. A bibliographic section is needed. --Larry Koenigsberg (talk) 16:32, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

I feel as if this article has many things wrong with it. I am a descendent of Olmsted, and i have a book of geneology in my possesion. Many things in this article contridict the biography of Olmsted in my book. I believe that my book is reliable, but i dont want to change anything just yet.--Solm12 20:43 15 Nov 2009

Yosemite Board of CommissionersEdit

Alluded to and external-linked in the article, Olmsted was a member of a Board of Commissioners "appointed to manage the grant of the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove from Congress to the State of California as a park." My brief Web search has not substantiated Olmsted's relationship with John Muir. My understanding is that Olmsted as a member of the Commission suggested to Muir that he get himself to Yosemite, thus initiating Muir's lifelong relationship with that locale. --Larry Koenigsberg (talk) 16:32, 23 December 2007 (UTC)

Date of birthEdit

I've checked a few sources online. I tried to eliminate the ones that are clearly or probably relying on our article in either of its versions (the birthdate given in our article was recently changed). I'm still left confused. More sources seem to give the date as April 26, including, a University of Texas site, and the Writer's Almanac. In the April 27 camp, however, we find the 1911 Britannica. It would be nice if someone could resolve this. JamesMLane 06:13, 7 May 2005 (UTC)

NNDB, which doesn't seem to be based on Wikipedia, gives April 27. [1] Two .gov sites ([2] and [3]) show April 26. A biography on shows April 26. [4]
My Google search terms were /"Frederick Law Olmsted" birthdate -wikipedia -encyclopedia -Jr./

Audubon ParkEdit

You have listed Audubon Park in New Orleans as a Fred Olmsted commission, but actually Audubon Park was design by Frederick Olmsted's nephew, John Olmsted.

Removed. Be bold! MarkinBoston 18:51, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

Please see Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. articleEdit

I just stubbed the Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and I must admit landscape architecture is a bit outside of my field, so if anyone would be so kind as to add some information to it, that'd be very helpful. Thanks. --Cyde Weys [u] [t] [c] 07:13, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

Downing's DeathEdit

Olmstead is my great X4 uncle. I looked into the Downing page, after I read that he died "a hero's death" on this page. Yet, in the Downing page it says "In a rare moment of cowardice" he died after jumping ship! Can you explain this dramatic contradiction?

Riverside IllinoisEdit

The article, I think, needs to be expanded with some more on Riverside Illinois, planned by Olmstead and Calvert Vaux. Riverside is one of the first planned communities and as important as the Neighborhood Unit, the Radburn Idea and the Garden City for Urban Planning. VRS 07:48, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Downing and his DeathEdit

Downing actually died while saving his mother-in-law in the Hudson River, so I would say that it's more of a "hero's death." Also, William Cullen Bryant was the first person to come up with the idea for a central public park. He was then joined by Downing and together, they planned Central Park.

Academic peer-reviewed criticism of this articleEdit

From Rosenzweig's article reports a minor error: "Frederick Law Olmsted is said to have managed the Mariposa mining estate after the Civil War, rather than in 1863.[...] The Olmsted entry has him (correctly) forming Olmsted, Vaux and Company in 1865 at the same time that he is (incorrectly) in California running Mariposa. ".--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 18:19, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

Academic peer review means nothing for the wiki. It has to be verifiable. Thanks for the tip. though! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:23, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

China? The Nation?Edit

Can someone show me the source of any information about Olmsted's tour of China and his involvement with The Nation? I'm just not seeing anything about a lot of this, which makes me wonder about most of the non-career early biographical material here. I'm willing to accept that I'm probably mistaken here, but can we please cite?

Emerald NecklaceEdit

I'm going to recommend listing Boston's parks under a single heading:

Emerald Necklace parks and parkways

  • Back Bay Fens
  • Riverway
  • Jamaicaway
  • Olmsted Park
  • etc.

The E.N. and each park and parkway have their own Wiki pages, and they are historically united. It will put all the Boston parks in one place. MarkinBoston 18:37, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

While I'm at itEdit

Do the works of the sons belong in a list for the father? The sons' business has its own page. The man died in 1903, and campuses built in 1925 are on the list. Makes no sense to me. MarkinBoston 18:48, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

I agree - at a minimum, those designed and built after his death should be separated.--Parkwells (talk) 19:06, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
Only works by Olmsted and his firm should be listed in this article. May edit more later and move the sons' work to their article. Did they work with him when he was alive? It's confusing to follow - I assume so along with other architects and designers.--Parkwells (talk) 19:47, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

Problem needs fixingEdit

The top of the page seems to have some broken code. Can someone that knows how fix it? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Cubeofmoon (talkcontribs) 03:24, 25 October 2007 (UTC)


Humboldt Park in ChicagoEdit

The mention of Humboldt Park (Chicago park) in Frederick Law Olmsted#GHI contradicts information in that article (and verified by the Chicago Park District. This may have been added due to the popular misconception that Olmsted designed all the parks on the Chicago Boulevard ring (as stated in this article, he only designed the southern section), or it may be a confusion with Olmsted's Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, formerly called Humboldt Park. Either way, it is erroneous and I am deleting it from the article. Ibadibam (talk) 09:16, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

When did Olmsted think slavery was expensive and economically inefficient?Edit

I'm reading the University of Nebraska Press edition of "A Journey through Texas", so I was surprised to read that Omsted thought at this time that slavery was expensive and economically inefficient. On the contrary, the narrative he paints seems to be that slavery is obscenely and immorally profitable. This hardly supports the hypothesis that slavery would eventually have died for economic reasons. I'm only halfway through the book. There have been three or four anecdotal discussions of the economics so far. Here are two I found scanning back through it:

page 51, referring to production with 10 to 11 slaves "Sixty bales of cotton would be worth three thousand dollars. Last year, the negro said, their crop was larger still. The expenses of the family (not very heavy, if our dinner was an indication) and of the negroes, would probably be defrayed by the swine and the corn crop, and the profits would have been in two years, full six thousand dollars. What do people living in this style do with so much money! They buy more negroes and enlarge their plantations."
page 88, "The women of the family did no housework. The planter raised only corn and hogs. These were the hogs whose acquaintence we had made. Life there was certainly cheap. This one negro, supposing them to be squatters, was the only investment, except a few days work, once in a lifetime, in cutting and piling together the logs that composed their residence. A little corn and bacon, sold now and then to travelers, furnished the necessary coffee and tobacco, nature and the negro did all the rest."

I can highly recommend the book. One can't help but be impressed by Olmsted's frankness and powers of observation. -- (talk) 15:47, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Here he reports some Texan assessments of the economics:

page 212: "With regard to slavery, for instance, these gentlemen, I doubt not, honestly and confidently believe the institution to be a beneficial one; gradually and surely making Negroes a civilized and Christian people and paying its way (perhaps with handsome dividends) to the capitalists who are the stockholders; that all the cruelty, or most of it, is a necessary part of the process, necessary at least in the present constitution of property and of society."

I am now at the part of the book where he expresses an opinion supporting the text:

page 202 "I know of no other spot in a Southern state where white agricultural laborers can be hired than in the German neighborhoods of Texas; in fact, no other spot where the relative advantages of white or slave labor can be even discussed in peace. From a thorough examination of Southern agriculture, we have become convinced that slave-labor is everywhere uneconomical and cruel, and to a man of Northern habits, to the last degree, an irritating annoyance, which when choosing for a lifetime, he should not voluntarily inflict upon himself."

In the immediately following pages, he estimates the profits both with and without slaves, but comparing a kind of mixed farming with free labor to cotton with slaves. In those estimates, free labor is more economical than slavery. However, without explanation, he lowers the production of cotton "per hand" to 3 to 5 when previous anecdotes he related were in the eight to ten range. -- (talk) 18:08, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Footnote #2Edit

^ "F. L Olmstead is Dead; End Comes to Great Landscape Architect at Waverly, Mass. Designer of Central and Prospect Parks and Other Famous Garden Spots of American Cities." New York Times. August 29, 1903. Also a noted peadophile.

I have a little knowledge of Frederick Law Olmsted, but not that much about his private life. Was he a "noted peadophile" (pedophile) or is this someone's sick joke? Jtyroler (talk) 19:25, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

Fix needed: State and Province columnsEdit

After adding a couple of sites under "Olmsted Sites by State and Province", the columns were of uneven length, so I adjusted them. However, they now appear with uneven widths. I spent a good 40 minutes trying to figure out how to make them equal, more or less, without success. If someone has the expertise, please make the fix and share how you did it. It would also be helpful to eliminate all the [Edit] buttons that appear all over these three columns. Thanks. Yoho2001 (talk) 01:00, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

When? (Calvert engaging with Olmstead for Central park design)Edit

when exactly does Calvert ask for Olmstead assistance for the central park design? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:23, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

Daughter's nameEdit

This entry is incomplete until we get Fred's daughter's name! In the bio it gives the name of his little boy, but not his little girl! We don't want the wiki to be accused of being sexist! (believe me, people will do the accusations!) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:25, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

Hey dudes! No problem. I actually just did it. I found the informations. Yes, I complained about it. But I also did the leg work to get the name. Her name is Marion, if anybody cares to know. She seems to have been a nobody, so there ain't know Wiki about her. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:47, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

Dedicated article/navbox/category for Olmsted's works?Edit

Should there be a list-type article, or one of those navbox footers, or a category for Olmsted's works? Or all three maybe?--A bit iffy (talk) 12:26, 18 November 2012 (UTC)

Yes. There are a good number of architects for whom a list of works has been split out to a separate article. Olmsted has so many works that it is clearly okay/good to start now. The List of works by Frederick Law Olmsted article (or whatever other name you want) could include a big table of works including locations and photos and descriptions. Certainly there can be a category like Category:Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, one of 161 architect-specific categories within Category:Buildings and structures by American architects. I happen to be less into navboxes, but you can do one of those also. These different approaches complement each other, as described at Wikipedia:Categories, lists, and navigation templates (aka wp:CLT). Go ahead, start the list-article or the category or the navbox.... --doncram 18:17, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
I will start off with Category:Frederick Law Olmsted works, followed by article List of works by Frederick Law Olmsted, currently under construction in my sandbox at User:A bit iffy/Sandbox/List of works by Frederick Law Olmsted. People are welcome to contribute there in the meantime.--A bit iffy (talk) 10:39, 19 November 2012 (UTC)

His greatest park?Edit

I'm seeing this sentence is the article right now: "His work, especially in Central Park in New York City, set a standard of excellence that continues to influence landscape architecture in the United States."

I may be biased (as I'm originally from Brooklyn), but I think Prospect Park is far more beautiful and visitor-friendly than Central Park. It's sometimes referred to as "The park that learned from Central Park's mistakes." Olmsted and the other designers had advantages that were missing in Central Park -- for example, a larger, less narrow piece of land so that there are many places in Prospect Park where you can't even tell you're in a city, can't see any buildings against the sky at all, just trees and other natural features.

This is very subjective, of course, but I wonder if that sentence in the article falsely implies that Central Park was his greatest achievement? What is the objective basis for claiming that Central Park (as opposed to Olmsted's work as a whole) "set a standard"? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:31, 26 October 2014 (UTC)

The short answer is, on the basis of the sources. It's not an encyclopedia's place to pass judgement on history; that's up to the sources we cite. The longer answer is, Central Park was first, is in the largest city in the country, and established not only Olmsted's reputation, but the importance of landscape architecture as a field. After Central Park, many other cities followed suit, Brooklyn included. Central Park is the park to which all other parks are compared (You even did it, as the premise of this thread!). Ibadibam (talk) 19:50, 24 January 2018 (UTC)

Sortable list of worksEdit

Shouldn't there be one sortable list of all his works, instead of two lists (one alphabetical, one by state and city) of just the "other" works? When this article was developed (starting 2005) sortable lists were not possible. Ordered by state and city, sortable to alphabetical order. --doncram 20:26, 8 August 2016 (UTC)

I agree. Plus, a sortable list allows for the option of sorting by other criteria besides alphabet and state/city. {{u|SaAnKe}} 15:36, 3 August 2017 (UTC)
I also agree. Better yet, all that content should be in a standalone list, sortable by name, location, and year, with a second list for Olmsted Bros projects. Ibadibam (talk) 19:19, 24 January 2018 (UTC)
I have split off the lists from this article and from Olmsted Brothers, and created the first sortable table. Ibadibam (talk) 00:35, 25 January 2018 (UTC)

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