Monday, June 28, 2010
Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. In His Own Words
I've skimmed all 614 pages of my book, "The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted Supplementary Series Vol. 1 Writings on Public Parks, Parkways and Park Systems." He never advocates for or mentions dog parks.
Olmsted Papers page 155: "I want you to see that when people ask for a park, it may be perfectly possible to please them very much with something which is not a park, or which is a very poor and much adulterated kind of park and that it would nevertheless be dishonest, quackish, to do so. A park is a work of art, designed to produce certain effects upon the mind of men.
Olmsted Papers page 190: " Nor can I think that in the park proper (italic), what is called gardenesque beauty is to be courted. These may have places, but they do not belong within a park."
Olmsted Papers page 190-191: "The question now comes up: How can a community best take this work in hand? It is a work in which private and local and special interests will be found so antagonistic one to another, heated prejudices are established, and those who would be disappointed in their personal greeds by whatever good scheme may be studied out, are so likely to combine and concentrate force to kill it..."
Olmsted Papers page 538: Take for instance the operations of roads and walk making, the dressing of ground surfaces with herbage, the building of objects. To those who do not see the very different way in which they are intended on the [Niagara] reservation will always be thought that the introduction of decorative detail would be an improvement..."
Olmsted Papers pg. 538 continued: " Once the reason for excluding decorative detail is lost sight of, there is nothing to hinder the introduction of any amount to it, thus bringing the about the gradual transformation of the [Niagara] Reservation into a flower-garden order, than which nothing would be more deplorable."
Olmsted Papers on Niagara Reservation page 539: [what] for many years have passed under the name of improvement, and especially of "landscape" or of "park" improvements has been presenting objects for admiration calculated to draw off and dissipate regard for natural scenery."
Olmsted on Niagara Reservation page 540: What was the organic purpose of these improvements? To draw visitors by any means to a particular piece of ground where money could be made out of them, and to so occupy them when there that they should not wish to go elsewhere. Some of them left without having looked for a single moment at anything beyond the filed of its artificial improvements."