As we celebrate Frederick Law Olmsted’s birthday and the Olmsted landscape design legacy in 2022, we also celebrate the crucial role that the public park experience plays in our lives.
Writer, historian, and filmmaker, Laurence Cotton, will discuss Frederick Law Olmsted’s life and legacy. Cotton was the principal researcher and consulting producer of the PBS Olmsted film, Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America, which premiered nationwide in 2014.
During the COVID pandemic and times of social distancing, parks—in particular public parks—have been a lifesaver for so many of us seeking fresh air, exercise, and physical and psychological health. Parks have allowed us to do so safely, as individuals, couples, and in small groups.
Frederick Law Olmsted now appears so entirely prescient. He emphasized the public health, mental health, and even spiritual health benefits of the park experience, for everyone in a democracy. Arguably, he was one of our first urban planners for our great urban parks and parkways. He was also an early proponent of “forest bathing”—along with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau—long before that term became so current in the 21st Century.
10-11 a.m. — Morning session: Olmsted’s Life and Influences
11 a.m. – noon — Docent-led tours of grounds and Walnut Hill Park
Noon – 1 p.m. — Break
1-2 p.m. — Afternoon session: The Olmsted Legacy and Great American Park Design
Note: This event will be both virtual and onsite. The virtual format will include two Zoom links, one for the morning session and one for the afternoon session.