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Teaching With the Olmsteds
Photograph of a model park created by an elementary school landscape architect.

Student-Designed Landscape Model at the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, Brookline, MA

Photo by Joel Veak, courtesy of National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site

Learning Through Landscape:

Landscape architecture is an exciting way to teach general concepts of planning, design, revision, and execution. Building a model park like the one shown above is a hands-on activity before or after visiting an Olmsted landscape. Join us as we explore great parks designed by the famous Olmsted family, and find resources for planning your own learning vacation.

Begin the photo tour >

Learn About the Olmsted Family Business:

Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. (1822–1903) settled his landscape architecture business in Brookline, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. Olmsted's son, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. (1870–1957), and nephew/stepson, John Charles Olmsted (1852–1920), apprenticed here, at Fairsted, and eventually found the Olmsted Brothers Landscape Architects (OBLA) after their father retired in 1895. Olmsted landscapes became a family business.

The Olmsted business model was to survey the property, develop an intricate and detailed plan, review and modify the plan with the property owners (e.g., city councils), and then execute the plan, sometimes over a number of years. That's a lot of paperwork. Over a million Olmsted documents are available for study in the Olmsted Archives at the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site (Fairsted) as well as the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. The Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site is run by the National Park Service and open to the public.

See Famous Olmsted Landscapes:

After the 1859 success of Central park in New York City, the Olmsteds were commissioned by urban areas throughout the United States. Here are some favorites:

Resources on the Web:

Further Reading:

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