Greenscapes: Olmsted's Pacific Northwest (Paperback)
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"Seattle possesses extraordinary landscape advantages in having a great abundance and variety of water views and views of wooded hills and distant mountains and snow-capped peaks. I do not know of any place where the natural advantages for parks are better than here. They can be made very attractive and will be, in time, one of the things that will make Seattle known all over the world."--John Charles Olmsted, 1903
Like his famous stepfather and mentor Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York's Central Park, landscape architect John Charles Olmsted believed that pastoral spaces were integral to healthy urban life. Central Park's success sparked a nationwide movement to beautify cities. In 1903, as a full partner in the elder Olmsted's firm, he traveled to Portland and Seattle and submitted master park system plans. He produced designs for the region's university campuses and smaller cities, and Spokane's Manito Park. Despite facing political and practical mine fields such as changing park boards, escalating land costs, and dwindling funds, John Charles Olmsted's finesse with members of the societal elite influenced property purchases, political appointments, and municipal funding levels.
Meticulous, intensely observant, industrious, and visionary, John Charles Olmsted paid careful attention to natural vistas, topography, and native plants, creating green retreats compatible with surroundings and intended uses. There were playgrounds, ball fields, expansive lawns, and leafy passageways for travel by foot, horse, or car. Layered hilly woodlands offered lush, textural backdrops. His landscapes are still enjoyed daily.
"One hundred years later, when we enter an Olmsted-designed park, despite more traffic and development than even those visionaries could probably imagine, we feel submerged in solitude, shelter and a dose of peace sufficient to refresh even the 21st-century human spirit."--Pacific Northwest Magazine