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The Life and Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted

Olmsted 200

April 26, 2022, marks the 200th birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted (FLO)— author, journalist, public official, city planner, and father of American landscape architecture. ASLA is pleased to be one of 10 founding partners of the Bicentennial, Olmsted 200, that will explore Olmsted’s life and legacy over the next year.
 
In addition to a national calendar of in-person and virtual events, blog posts written by diverse thought leaders, teaching materials, advocacy resources, and the monthly Olmsted Insider newsletter, the Olmsted 200 campaign serves to educate practitioners and the public about the legacy of FLO and spur excitement for protecting and preserving our parks and public spaces.

Olmsted’s ideas were revolutionary for his time. In the 19th century, America dealt with issues such as racism, disease, pollution, inequality, and deep social divisions. Against this backdrop, Olmsted concluded that parks could serve as democratic spaces, offering healthful connections to nature and sustainable landscapes vital to successful communities.
 
In the face of the pandemic, Olmsted’s parks and places have proven more important than ever. There’s no better time to remember that these places did not appear by accident. They took generations of dedicated stewardship and will require generations of advocates and allies going forward.

We invite you to join Olmsted 200 to think big, take bold actions, and to help sustain and reimagine public spaces that are accessible, useful, and inclusive.
 
“I think [Olmsted] had a really radical idea, in many ways, of responding to the environment…but I think today we have to take it to a new level..Resilience looks a little different in the 21st century than it did 200 years ago.” — Happy Haynes, Denver Parks and Recreation
 
Olmsted 200 programs are being designed to address the ways Olmsted’s vision and values can inform contemporary challenges. Our recent panel discussion — featuring Justin Worland, Happy Haynes, Thaisa Way, FASLA, and Justin DiBerardinis — explored the topic of parks as critical infrastructure. Watch a video of the discussion.

The upcoming Conversations with Olmsted — co-hosted by two founding partners, ASLA and the National Recreation and Park Association— will explore FLO’s time as a political journalist in the South and his views on slavery.   

To read more about Olmsted’s core values and how they can be re-imagined for our contemporary society, read ASLA’s recent contribution to the Shared Spaces blog: A Vision for Truly Inclusive Public Spaces Rooted in Olmsted’s Core Values.

To get involved, visit olmsted200.org, subscribe to our newsletter, and follow Olmsted 200 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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