On April 26, 2022, the bicentennial of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., considered the father of landscape architecture, The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) will unveil What’s Out There Olmsted, a digital guide to more than 300 North American landscapes designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., and his successor firms . Olmsted, Sr. is well known as the co-designer of New York City’s iconic Central Park, but his legacy and that of his successor firms is vast. What’s Out There Olmsted includes a detailed and illustrated introduction, a searchable database of North American landscapes, and nearly 100 biographical entries about the Olmsted family and the firm’s many employees, consultants, and collaborators. This will be TCLF’s twentieth digital What’s Out There City and Regional Guide, (including six guides produced in partnership with the National Park Service). What’s Out There Olmsted is optimized for iPhones and similar handheld devices, and includes What’s Nearby, a GPS-enabled feature that locates all landscapes within a given distance, customizable by mileage or walking time.
For more than 100 years, Olmsted, Sr., and his successor firms shaped cities, parks and park systems, scenic reservations, residential neighborhoods, cemeteries, and governmental, cultural, and academic campuses and more. Their work helped create a national identity and an unrivaled design legacy. The sites in What’s Out There Olmsted range from more than 30 National Historic Landmarks to lesser-known gardens, parks, and comprehensive plans. The Olmsted imprint can be found coast to coast: in North Carolina at the great Biltmore Estate; Colorado’s Mountain Park System near Denver; the grounds of the U.S. Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.; California’s Stanford University and Yosemite National Park; and Montreal, Canada’s Mount Royal.
“The impact of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., on the nation’s identity and the profession of landscape architecture is inestimable,” said Charles A. Birnbaum, TCLF’s President and CEO. “What’s Out There Olmsted provides easy access to a broad range of landscapes designed by Olmsted, Sr. and his successor firms and opportunities to discover the people associated with them.”
Each What’s Out There Olmsted entry includes a concise, 250-word site description, drop down menus with information about the site’s typology (e.g., public park, suburb, etc.), style (e.g., picturesque, Beaux-Arts/Neoclassical, etc.), designers, and related landscapes. It also indicates if a site has recognized significance (e.g. National Register of Historic Places, National Historic Landmark). Each entry has a media gallery with four to ten images, and where applicable, a complementary video or link to an external website.
In addition to revealing these landscapes, the What’s Out There Olmsted guide uncovers the fascinating stories of those that worked with, for, and after Olmsted to create these memorable landscapes. Notable among them is Warren Manning, who worked for Olmsted, Sr. for eight years before opening his own practice. During his career, he worked on over 1,700 projects, including estates, parks and park systems, city plans, campus plans, subdivisions, golf courses, and institutional grounds. Another Olmsted firm alum, Arthur Shurcliff, who specialized in the restoration of early American town commons, went on to become the landscape architect for Colonial Williamsburg. Massachusetts native William Lyman Phillips ultimately settled in Florida and collaborated with the Olmsted Brothers for decades. Finally, Stella Obst, about whom more is being learned, spent some 40 years at the Olmsted Brothers firm working closely with Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.
What’s Out There Olmsted is made possible by Lead Sponsor the National Endowment for the Arts and Educational Partners Olmsted 200 and the American Society of Landscape Architects.