The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Olmsted, Frederick Law
OLMSTED, Frederick Law, an American landscape gardener, born in Hartford, Conn., April 26, 1822. He studied engineering and agricultural science at Yale college, and subsequently followed farming and horticulture as a business. In 1850 he made a pedestrian journey through Great Britain and portions of the continent, some of the results of which were embodied in “Walks and Talks of an American Farmer in England” (New York, 1852). In 1852-'3 he travelled in the southern and southwestern states, examining the slave system of labor from the economical point of view, after which he published “A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States” (New York, 1856), “A Journey through Texas” (1857), and “A Journey in the Back Country” (1860). A resume of these works was issued in London under the title of “The Cotton Kingdom” (2 vols., 1861). In 1855 he made another tour through France, Italy, and Germany, during which he paid especial attention to parks and rural arts. In 1857 premiums were offered for the best plans for laying out the Central park of New York, and of 34 designs sent in the highest prize was awarded to that prepared by Mr. Olmsted in conjunction with Mr. Calvert Vaux. Mr. Olmsted was engaged during the next four years in managing the construction of the park upon this design. In 1859 he again visited Europe and examined various public works. On the breaking out of the civil war he was appointed by President Lincoln a member of the commission of inquiry and advice in regard to the sanitary condition of the United States forces, and during the next three years resided in Washington as the business manager of that organization. Subsequently he spent two years in California, and while there was a commissioner of the national park of the Yosemite. Returning to New York, he was engaged in 1866 with Mr. Vaux to lay out and superintend the Brooklyn park, and has since been employed in designing parks and public works in New York, Washington, Chicago, Buffalo, Montreal, and other places.