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A Clearing in the Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and America in the 19th Century

Tuesday September 2003


Witold Rybczynski The Martin & Margy Meyerson Professor of Urbanism, University of Pennsylvania

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) is best remembered today as a landscape designer, noted for his plans for New York’s Central Park and Prospect Park, the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and the campus of Stanford University, among other admired sites. Olmsted had a vision of the American landscape as a reflection of the national character, with its broad vistas and open skies, and he was concerned to make America’s urban spaces livable, bringing trees and greenery into a congested grid of streets.

In his talk, as he does in his book, Witold Rybczynski will show us how Olmsted changed the face of America. He will also challenge us to share in Olmsted’s vision, genius, and accomplishments—which stand as inspiring examples for the rebuilding of lower Manhattan today.