There is an air of excitement (over land) as the natural world celebrates the 200th birthday of landscape visionary Frederick Law Olmsted. Known as the founder of American landscape architecture, Olmsted revolutionized the creation of public parks, designing 100(!) public parks and recreation grounds over the course of his career. Celebrations are taking place across our country to honor the trailblazer who dedicated his life to enriching the experience of others. It would be virtually impossible to imagine our fair city without its beloved Central Park.
Olmsted was born in Hartford, Connecticut to an eighth generation family in the dry good business. His father loved the great outdoors and introduced Frederick to nature at an early age. Later he traveled extensively and while on a walk-about in Britain in 1850, he took in the sights at Birkenhead Park in Liverpool. It was a life-changing moment as he realized the benefits of public parks, a concept that had not yet flourished back home.
“The enjoyment of choicest natural scenes in the country and the means of recreation thus connected with them is thus a monopoly … of a few rich people. The great mass of society, including those to whom it would be the greatest benefit, are excluded from it.” — Frederick Law Olmsted
One of the fabulous festivities taking place at “Park For All People,” the Frederick Law Olmsted Bicentennial, is a Gala Birthday Dinner in the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park on April 25, 2022. For our what to wear moment we shopped a lovely collection of floral frocks, reminiscent of spring blooms, set in a sophisticated dark hued bed. Imagine how verdant your look will be as you head down the “Green Carpet” to a garden-lover’s gathering with flowers by the Garden Club of America’s Floral Design Committee and Frederick Law Olmsted-themed cocktails.
Florals to a Garden Party …
By the by — TREND ALERT — this is THE shoe silhouette of the season. We applaud the flared heel for its stability and graceful allure. It is a perfect solution when a thick heel or wedge just won’t do.
Hilary, who had spent her life in Central Park, explains its significance: “Our Parks have ever been more important or more enjoyed due to the pandemic. Central Park is unveiling its beauty right now with Spring blossoms around every corner. It is a special place that we are so lucky to have at our back door. When thinking of what to wear to this celebration at the Boat House and in appreciation of Earth Day, I turned to sustainable brands. Net-a-Porter.com has an entire section devoted to this and I found these pretty pieces. Feeling floral, or more comfortable in always chic black, there is something for everyone while being eco conscious at the same time.”
It doesn’t seem like happenstance that April, Earth Month, would have produced the most prodigious protector of the natural order and champion of equal rights for all citizens to enjoy the benefits of healthy en plein air experiences.
There are so many delightful FLO activities taking place this season, why not pick out a few to enjoy? The National Association for Olmsted Parks is the managing partner of Olmsted 200, the year-long national celebration in partnership with nine other national organizations.
Here are a few close to home …
Friday, April 22 & Saturday, April 23
Celebrate Olmsted Bicentennial: The Greensward Plan for the Central Park, 31 Chambers St. Enjoy A Pop-up exhibition featuring the original Greensward plan: the winning master plan submitted in 1858 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux as part of the proposal for the Central Park design competition. Rarely seen in public, the plan is considered a masterpiece of 19th century landscape architecture.
Saturday, April 23, Prospect Park B’Earthday Bash, Prospect Park Audubon Center
Celebrate with activities for all ages that celebrate the historic and environmental importance of Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s slice of nature and home to a thriving ecosystem of hundreds of species of plants and animals, 30,000 trees, Brooklyn’s only lake and last remaining forest.
Sunday, April 24, 1:00-3:00 p.m, FLO FEST
4515 Hylan Blvd, Eltingville, Staten Island. The Olmsted-Beil House grounds will host children’s activities, music, tours, readings,and more activities at this Staten Island Landmark.
Monday, April 25, 12:00-1:00 p.m, Olmsted, Lincoln and the Civil War
With Harold Holzer and Louise Mirrer, Robert H Smith Auditorium, New York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, and with an online streaming option.
We examine Frederick Law Olmsted’s “other” careers-first as a journalist reporting on the horrors of slavery in the antebellum South, then as a leader of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, working to improve the health of the Civil War Soldiers and care for the sick and wounded.
Tuesday, April 26, Tour Morningside Park
Celebration an Often Overlooked Gem in Frederick Law Olmsted’s NYC Legacy. NW corner of West 110th Street and Manhattan Avenue This special tour of Morningside Park on the 200th anniversary of Frederick Law Olmsted’s birth explores the design challenge Olmsted and Vaux encountered, the changed urban landscape they had to contend with over the long years of planning and construction (1873-1895) and brilliant execution of their final design.
Tuesday April 26, 12:05 p.m.-1:00 p.m, Olmsted 200 Carillon Concert
Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive. This Special Concert Features original music written for this event and can be heard from the Nave, Viewing the carillonneur on screens, or outdoors in Riverside and Sakura Parks.
Thursday April 28, Fort Greene Park History Tour
Join Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Martin Maher, Fort Greene Park Director David Barker, Fort Greene Park Conservancy Executive Director Rosamond Fletcher and the Urban Park Rangers for a presentation and tour on the history of the Fort Greene Park, including the design by Olmsted and Vaux.