Urban Parks Explored In Landscape Architect Olmsted’s Biography | St. Louis Public Radio

Urban Parks Explored In Landscape Architect Olmsted’s Biography

Dec 27, 2012

St. Louis is home to one of the country’s great urban parks.

Forest Park encompasses more than 1,300 acres and in addition to walking, running and bike trails, it includes institutions such as The Muny, Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Zoo and Saint Louis Science Center.

While he didn’t design Forest Park, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted did design New York City’s Central Park, Stanford University in California and the Capitol Grounds in Washington, D.C.

Host Don Marsh talked with Olmsted biographer Justin Martin about his book, “Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted.”

During the 19th century when urban parks such as Central Park in New York City and Forest Park in St. Louis were developed, Olmsted’s idea was to “create natural places that are more natural than nature itself,” Martin explained.

“You have cities all over the country, including St. Louis, where it was very fortunate that parks were set aside in the 19th century,” Martin said.  “Cities were starting to fill out and had land not been set aside it’s very possible something else would have been there.”

While most well-known for designing Parks, Olmsted was also a reformer, abolitionist and journalist.