Whether flying a kite in Franklin Park, gardening in the Fens, or jogging along the Riverway, today’s Bostonians are greatly indebted to the legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted. The man who dreamed of an “emerald necklace” of parks for Boston completed his plans in 1895, yet his invigorating influence shapes the city to this day, despite the encroachment of highways and urban sprawl. Cynthia Zaitzevsky’s book is the first fully illustrated account of Olmsted’s work: the process of “getting the plan” of a park, supervising its construction, adding the necessary “furniture” of bridges and other structures, and selecting plants, shrubs, and trees.
Frederick Law Olmsted’s stellar career in landscape architecture began with his design for Central Park in New York City. Public concern for open spaces led Boston to commission Olmsted to design peaceful “country parks” for the mental and physical refreshment of those who lived in the expanding city. He planned the system of five parks and connecting parkways extending out from the original Boston Common and Public Garden, as well as harbor and riverfront improvements—a vast set of projects involving 2,000 acres of open land. He and his firm also designed many smaller parks, playgrounds, and suburban subdivisions.
This book will be invaluable to anyone interested in landscape architecture, city planning, the history of Boston, or the nineteenth-century urban park movement and its current revival.
Cynthia Zaitzevsky’s book tells the story of a park system that was once perhaps the finest in the nation. This is a model of what such a book should be. It’s full of scholarly history, yet readable and fresh, filled with illuminating maps and plans and with achingly lovely period photographs of the magical places Olmsted created out of what had previously been, so often, dreary wastelands.
[Zaitzevsky] has provided a comprehensive and thoroughly absorbing account of the famous park system Olmsted developed for Boston…handsomely designed and thoughtfully organized.
Cynthia Zaitzevsky’s timely, handsome and authoritative book provides the first detailed description of the Olmsted firm’s ‘Boston work,’ and demonstrates with a wealth of archival material the extraordinary originality and vitality of Olmsted’s design solutions.
One of the many merits of this clearly written, carefully documented, and handsomely illustrated monograph is that it represents a significant contribution to the relatively recent growth of two interrelated specializations: the historiography of landscape architecture and the practice of preservation, restoration, and adaptive reuse of historically-significant landscapes.
- 280 pages
- Belknap Press
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