I’ve been reading the biography of Frederick Law Olmsted, known almost exclusively as the designer of Central Park. Many are unfamiliar with the fact that he was much more than a founder of Landscape Architecture. He was a journalist, a farmer, a sailor, an abolitionist, a politician and an avid world traveler. If there was something of significance happening in the United States, he was a part of it.
A couple weeks ago I had the chance to visit several of my favorite parks in New York City; The Brooklyn Bridge Park, The Highline & of course, Central Park. I had ventured to these parks countless times but the fact that I was reading Olmsted’s biography helped me to see them all with fresh eyes.
Although he was given the job without any former design experience or knowledge, I could see the influence of his vast knowledge and many professions throughout the park. Everything in the park was well thought out and caters to all types of people and activities. I inadvertently became the tour guide for my family as I spewed out fact after fact.
My latest experience with Central Park gave me a new perspective on The Highline and Brooklyn Bridge Park and I found myself noticing details that I had previously missed.
As you sit down to design your next project, draw from all your life experiences. Revisit those parks you’ve seen time and again. Your perspective may have changed.