John Charles Olmsted

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John Charles Olmsted

Birthdate: (67)
Birthplace: Vandeuvre, Geneva, Switzerland
Death: February 24, 1920 (67)
Brookline, Norfolk, Massachusetts, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of John Hull Olmsted, M.D. and Mary Cleveland Olmsted
Brother of Charlotte Olmsted and Owen Frederick Olmsted
Half brother of John Theodore Olmsted; Marion Olmsted; Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and Infant Olmsted

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About John Charles Olmsted

John Charles Olmsted (1852-1920), the nephew and adopted son of Frederick Law Olmsted, was an American landscape architect. With his brother, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., he founded Olmsted Brothers, a landscape design firm in Brookline, Massachusetts. The firm is famous for designing many urban parks, college campuses, and other public places. John Olmsted's body of work from over 40 years as a landscape architect has left its mark on the American urban landscape.


John Olmsted continued the park planning begun by his father. He carried his design philosophy of integrated park systems into new cities such as Portland, Maine; Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Spokane, Dayton, and Charleston. In these cities, he pioneered his comprehensive planning philosophy of integrating civic buildings, roads, parks, and greenspaces into livable urban areas.

Olmsted also designed individual parks in New Orleans, Watertown, New York; and Chicago. His work in park design led to commissions for numerous institutions such as school campuses, civic buildings, and state capitols, as well as designs for large residential areas, including roads and schools. His work in comprehensive planning for the communities surrounding industrial plants and factories is considered especially noteworthy.

In all his work, John Olmsted retained a sensitivity to the natural beauty of the site, including its views, vistas, and greenways. He wanted to ensure that communities and public areas must be comfortable and inviting. He favored modest, informal structures in a naturalistic setting to large, imposing structures.

His first plan for an exposition was his work for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.[citation needed] He continued with the 1906 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland, Oregon, and the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition.

In 1899, John Olmsted was a founding member and first president of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Selected works

1903 - The Seattle City Council hired the Olmsted Brothers to develop a comprehensive plan for Seattle's city parks and boulevards. John Olmsted was the firm's principal designer in Seattle and laid out a 20-mile-long system of interconnected parkways that linked parks and playfields, greenways, and natural lakes and waterways.

1903 - Grant Park, Atlanta, Georgia

1903 - Washington Park, Portland, Oregon

1905 - Druid Hills residential district, Atlanta

1906 - Oregon State University, a master plan for the Corvallis campus and design and construction of 23 new buildings

1908 - Bryn Mawr College, update of general campus landscaping plan designed by his father; design for private garden and a small theater in the round

1909 - Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition World's Fair

1909 - Comprehensive plan for the University of Washington

1911 - The grounds of the Washington State Capitol in Olympia, Washington[

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John Charles Olmsted's Timeline

September 14, 1852
Vandeuvre, Geneva, Switzerland
Age 27
New York (Manhattan), New York City-Greater, New York, United States
February 24, 1920
Age 67
Brookline, Norfolk, Massachusetts, USA