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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 22

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This is the grave of Frederick Law Olmsted

2016-02-14 15.16.28

Olmsted, the famed designer of Central Park in New York and parks around the nation, is the father of American landscape architecture. He has rightfully been criticized recently for kicking African-Americans and the Irish out of what is today Central Park to build the space. That’s fair, but as these things go, we have to consider whether the social cost was worth the long-term benefit. That’s a slippery slope, higher power of your choice knows. But New York without Central Park would be a worse place, I think we can all agree. He and his agency designed public spaces across the nation, including Jackson Park in Chicago, the Emerald Necklace in Boston, and the grounds of the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. His earlier career as a journalist writing extensively about slave society in the South in the 1850s is also incredibly valuable. During the Civil War, he helped raise three African-American regiments for the Union army and worked on projects that raised $1 million for the U.S. Sanitary Commission. He also helped preserve the area around Niagara Falls from development and was an important player in the preservation of Yosemite National Park.

You can visit his home and studio outside Boston and it’s pretty cool.

Frederick Law Olmsted is buried in Old North Cemetery, Hartford, Connecticut.

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