Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted

Genius of Place The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted Frederick Law Olmsted is arguably the most important historical figure that the average American knows the least about Best remembered for his landscape architecture from New York s Central Park to B

  • Title: Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted
  • Author: JustinMartin
  • ISBN: 9780306818813
  • Page: 473
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Frederick Law Olmsted is arguably the most important historical figure that the average American knows the least about Best remembered for his landscape architecture, from New York s Central Park to Boston s Emerald Necklace to Stanford University s campus, Olmsted was also an influential journalist, early voice for the environment, and abolitionist credited with helpingFrederick Law Olmsted is arguably the most important historical figure that the average American knows the least about Best remembered for his landscape architecture, from New York s Central Park to Boston s Emerald Necklace to Stanford University s campus, Olmsted was also an influential journalist, early voice for the environment, and abolitionist credited with helping dissuade England from joining the South in the Civil War This momentous career was shadowed by a tragic personal life, also fully portrayed here.Most of all, he was a social reformer He didn t simply create places that were beautiful in the abstract An awesome and timeless intent stands behind Olmsted s designs, allowing his work to survive to the present day With our urgent need to revitalize cities and a widespread yearning for green space, his work is relevant now than it was during his lifetime Justin Martin restores Olmsted to his rightful place in the pantheon of great Americans.

    One thought on “Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted”

    1. Freddy Olmsted was a spoiled brat. Before he got around to designing Central Park (with Calvert Vaux), or Prospect Park, or the Chicago World Fair site, or any of the other parks and estates in the U.S. that helped him establish the field of landscape architecture; before he helped preserve Yosemite or Niagara Falls he was a chronic failure and a mooch. He couldn't hack it at school so he moved home with his father and stepmother. He gave up his first job as a surveyor to sail to China. Then he [...]

    2. I was introduced to Olmstead in the book Devil in the White City, where I found myself wanting more of the making of the world's fair story than the serial killer. This book provided lots more and was quite enjoyable.Olmstead's childhood was a bit strange, but probably because we have such different views of what a normal childhood is. My own childhood may be deemed 'strange' by those who had different experiences. I am sympathetic to parents who have children who don't seem to be able to figure [...]

    3. After hearing Olmsted's name come up repeatedly in other books, and in life in general, I was very eager to read about this "Landscape Architect" who has a fingerprint in every corner of the US. I'm interested in city planning, so this felt in line as well. Totally fascinating! I'd recommend this biography not only for it's interesting human subject, but also for a general refresh of American history before, during and after the Civil War. It gets into antebellum South, America's cultural inferi [...]

    4. Justin Martin has chosen to write this biography of Frederick Law Olmsted (FLO) like a story about his subject's life. At first I was a bit uncomfortable with this technique because I wanted to see his research and know his sources, but the more I read, the more the narrative drew me in and made me wonder if this style is more accessible and more appealing to wider audiences. This could very well be why it is written in this way rather than as a more historical text/biography. I was expecting a [...]

    5. “Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted” – written by Justin Martin and published in 2011 by Da Capo Press. This was such an interesting chronicle of the life of “a park maker, environmentalist and abolitionist” who left his imprint on many of our country’s scenic wonders. I was surprised at all the endeavors Olmsted was involved in, although he is rightly most recognized for his skills as a landscape architect, “…he paints with lakes and wooded slopes; with lawns and [...]

    6. 4.5 stars. I truly enjoyed this book, and reading more about FLO as a person.Makes me think that in this day and age, we are encumbered by resumes and degrees too much - that so many talented and intelligent people are overlooked by employers because they don't didn't go to the right school ( or any school at all) and don't have the precise code-words on their resumes to get through the first (oftentimes computerized) read. How many FLOs and other geniuses are discarded/held back due to our curr [...]

    7. Love love loved this biography. Now I need to find a self tour guide for each park. So amazed at the confluence of events and partners that allowed Olmsted to develop into the landscape architect I adore. Martin sets the historical setting surrounding Olmsted's challenges which allowed me to better understand his accomplishments and the challenges Olmsted and his contemporaries dealt with. For example, who today would know that the NYC civic planners named clean water and a park the two main nee [...]

    8. I enjoyed this - I learned a lot about Olmsted and certainly gained a tremendous appreciation for his impact in many areas of American life - literary, public health, conservation - as well as landscape architecture. For all that, I don't think that it was especially well written - it was fine, but nothing special. At times, the language seemed anachronistic and that pushed me away from immersion in the 19th century. I think that I would give this 3.5 stars. A very good book, but not a great one [...]

    9. FLO led an interesting life, and this book tells his story well. Besides designing Central Park, he was a sailor, managed a gold mine, wrote several travel books and anti-slavery pieces, and was one of the first environmentalists. At times I found the writing a bit cutesy, and sometimes the author seemed to aggrandize FLO's influence over his times, but overall, I liked it. I would recommend this book to people who like biographies or are interested in the history of landscape architecture.

    10. Frederick Law Olmsted is a very interesting person and he was much more than a landscape designer (and the first one at that!). This is a great book that just didn't want to put down.

    11. Justin Martin said, “Frederick Law Olmsted is arguably the most important historical figure that the average American knows the least about. Best remembered for his landscape architecture, from New York's Central Park to Boston's Emerald Necklace to Stanford University's campus”He was born in 1822, and his 81-year life had more than a normal share of personal challenges and tragedy. A strained marriage, untimely deaths of children, close relations and close friends. He suffered psychological [...]

    12. I am so very glad I picked up this biography of a brilliant man! Olmsted was one of the most influential men in America and it was a privilege to learn about his life and the enormous depth of his work. I enjoyed the relaxed and yet precise style of this biography that made history come to life. The engaging writing style gave an insight to a life well lived. If you are walking through a park, a college campus or a planned community, chances are that Olmsted had something to do with it, whether [...]

    13. Brilliant look at a late-blooming genius. We think of Olmstead as the father of Landscape Architecture, and he was that, but many more things too -- journalist, farmer, civil war chronicler, government administrator, idea man behind the Chicago Exhibition, etc. His family never gave up on him, notwithstanding his "slow" start to his career. An inspiration to late-bloomers everywhere!

    14. This was an informative and enjoyable book. If you have an interest in landscape architecture, I recommend it. Olmsted also had a rather interesting life, so it could appeal to others too.

    15. I really enjoyed this book. Martin did a wonderful job illuminating the life of this late-blooming genius.

    16. Olmsted is a hectic, brilliant and functional character. He grew up in Hartford, CT, and traveled the country, and the world, having a frenetic career and never really settling down until he was well past 60. This book follows a similar path. As you might surmise, I have read many Olmsted books, my favorite being A Clearing In the Distance, by Witold Rybczynski. This book traveled many of the same paths, and overall suggests them in a well thought out and developed manner. What held it back for [...]

    17. Picked this up in my local library last summer and was very glad to have read it. olmsted had a tremendous influence on my primary area of substantive research -- urban parks -- and has always been a fascinating figure. the bio did not disappoint. talk about a polymath. what remains with me a year later is his seeming imperviousness to failure, or perhaps it makes more sense to term it his resilience -- the man had several other full fledged (quasi mediocre) careers before he essentially invente [...]

    18. A truly wonderfully well-crafted work. --Last year I discovered for myself the books by Olmstead which grew out of his travelogue columns about the slave south, written for the "new" New York Times in the 1850's. I was really surprised by what seemed to be another dimension of the acclaimed genius of American park design. The books, A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States (1856), A Journey Through Texas (1857), A Journey in the Back Country in the Winter of 1853-4 (1860), are surprisingly well-wr [...]

    19. Many men of talent seek their path and contribution to humanity without ever finding it. In Genius of Place, we can marvel that Olmsted's visions found their way to our great cities (and literary canon as well). Olmsted seemed to have what we would now call a form of attention deficit bouncing from mariner to scientific farming to dispatch reporting all indulged by his wealthy father and with varying degrees of success. But Olmsted was there when Central Park needed a designer (having supervised [...]

    20. I LOVED this book! It amazes me how many things FLO was able to accomplish in his lifetime and how many of his accomplishments we still rely on today. Frederick Law Olmsted was an amazing, self taught artist who founded the profession of landscape architecture. Blaine and I lived in one of the last developments that he designed-Druid Hills in Atlanta, his swan song-Biltmore-is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. His contribution to our knowledge of what it was really like to live [...]

    21. Well written biography of someone whose name is well-known, but whose life has been overshadowed by his work. Like many biographies, I found the chapters of Olmsted's early life the most interesting, and in his case fascinating on account of the tortuous path his activities took leading to his life's work. Were it not for an indulgent father, Olmsted might well not have had the opportunity to dabble in agronomy, journalism, management of relief efforts during the civil war, management of a gold [...]

    22. Hands down, the best biography I have ever read--and I like biographies. Martin doesn't just give us a chronicle of Olmstead's life, he so successfully locates Olmstead's place within American history, that the book can be read as an mid-19th century American history book from the perspective of landscape gardening, much in the way that one might read a history of the Civil War, say, from the perspective of medicine or agriculture. The subject matter is made interesting by excellent writing--exc [...]

    23. This is a very engaging biography, though I think that those who are more interested in his projects than in his life might be disappointed. What interested me most was Olmstead's perpetual shifting from one way of life to another. He sails to China, becomes a farmer and then a journalist. He got into landscape architecture almost by accident. This bouncing around makes the early part of the book quite interesting. Later when the author recounts his many projects the story becomes a slower read. [...]

    24. I can't remember when I have enjoyed a biography as much as Justin Martin's "Genius of Place." If all you know about Frederick Law Olmsted is that he designed some of America's greatest urban parks, you don't even know half of the story. Olmsted helped re-arrange the American landscape in more ways than park design. His efforts as a journalist, abolitionist, and health care advocate for troops during the Civil War all attest to his never-ending quest to better himself and the world. He was clear [...]

    25. didn't really get into the topics i was really into, like the reception of the emerald necklace, parks as democratizing social spaces in 19th c details about landscape architecture. obviously well researched about FLO's life, but not that well written. Had a lot of lines that were kind of like "This prescient moment would later" or "Once again, he was haunted by his old demon, insomnia" or things that seemed like lazy/cliché writing and editing. That said, it wasnt horrible or anything. Pretty [...]

    26. The life of Frederick Law Olmstead is one of the most interesting and impressive lives I have ever read about. Sailor, farmer, journalist, and father of landscape architecture; his life is full of triumph and tragedy. This book was interesting and read like a good introduction, but I felt the author was too casual and sometimes it felt more like a longer editorial. I know the Justin Martin's background is in newspapers, so that would make sense. It was a solid intro that focused on the major eve [...]

    27. I hate biographies. I hate the way they're written actually. But this was a really well written biography. But I still hate biographies. Actually, though Olmstead is my personal hero and this is the first in depth thing I have read about him, I was agitated to find that the author didn't go into enough detail as to his thought process. Though it was interesting to learn all the tragedies in his life and the timeline in which he designed his parks and the circumstances surrounding the designs, I [...]

    28. I feel the need to defend Olmsted. Several reviewers have called him things like "spoiled," "mooch" or "loser." I think that's a bit harsh. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about his fumblings. They made him the man he became and in the end, he paid his father back and certainly gave back to society. Nobody is perfect and Justin Martin aims to paint Olmsted as realistically as he can. He expertly sorts through an unprecedented amount of material to write a concise, yet thorough, and utterly interest [...]

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