Very Important Passengers
Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., born on Staten Island, New York, was the son of Frederick Law Olmsted, the fore-father of the profession of landscape architecture in the United States, and Mary Cleveland Perkins Olmsted, the widow of Olmsted's brother. From his earliest years young Olmsted was aware of his father's fervent desire, bordering on obsession, to have him carry on both the family name and profession. In a telling act, the elder Olmsted renamed the child (who had been called Henry Perkins at birth) Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., thus making his only biological son his namesake.
In the waning years of his life, the father enjoyed including his son in the culminating projects of his own career.
Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted
While still a student at Harvard, young Olmsted spent a summer working in Daniel Burnham's office as the "White City" of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition arose in Chicago. After graduating in 1894, Olmsted spent thirteen months on site at Biltmore, the 10,0000-acre estate being developed for George Vanderbilt in Asheville, North Carolina. In December 1895, he entered the Olmsted firm in Brookline, Massachusetts. Following his father's formal retirement in 1897, he became a full partner with his half-brother, John Charles Olmsted, in the family business.
As bearer of the most renowned name in landscape architecture, Olmsted was chosen for positions of prominence from the very start of his career. In 1899 he became a founding member of the American Society of Landscape Architects and served two terms as its president (1908–1909, 1919–1923). The following year he was appointed instructor in landscape architecture at Harvard, where he helped create the country's first university course in the profession.
UNITED STATES HOUSING CORPORATION
A tardy and incomplete recognition of the fundamental nature of the housing problem in its relation to successful war production occurred on March 1, 1918. On this date Congress authorized the expenditure of $50,000,000 by the United States Shipping Board for accelerating the production of housing facilities in connection with shipyards. This was a mere drop in the bucket compared with the investment in shipbuilding plants. Another step was taken when Congress authorized the President, on May 16, 1918, to apply $60,000,000 for the purposes of providing housing, local transportation and other general community utilities for such industrial work as are engaged in arsenals and navy yards of the United States and industries connected with and essential to the national defense, and their families oonly during the continuation of the existing war, and on June 4 provided the necessary appropriation. On July 81 1918, this amount was increased to $100,000,000.
By Executive order, confirmed in the act of June 4, 1918, the Bureau of Industrial Housing and Transportation was created in the Department of Labor to serve these ends, and the funds were expended by it through the United States Housing Corporation, legally created July 9, 1918.
The first effort was, through the establishment of the homes registration service, to discover and use to the utmost capacity the existing housing facilities in every community where the lack of such facilities was retarding the production of war materials. A further effort was for the improvement of transportation facilities, by better service and by extension of trackage, to increase the number of existing houses available for war workers. As a last resort there was undertaken the construction of new living quarters, both in the way of temporary dormitories and of permanent houses with accessories suitable for decent family life.
The available and prospective funds were never enough to justify more house construction than would simply take the peak off the war-time shortage. Nevertheless, the building projects recognized as urgently essential by the production authorities of the Army and Navy and by the United States Housing Corporation at the time of the signing of the armistice involved an estimated expenditure of $194,000,000, and the projects actually under way had been allotted the full limit of the appropriation of $100,000,000 then available. As at that time reduced, the total expenditure for construction, including amounts lost on canceled projects, will not exceed $45,000,000.
Urban Planning, Cornell University
Designing the American Landscape.Frederick Law Olmstead.Yosemite, Yellowstone, Niagara Falls.
For thirty years he advised the National Park Service on issues of management and the conservation of water and scenic resources. He left this mark on national parks from coast to coast, including Maine's Acadia National Park, the Florida Everglades, and Yosemite.
Interest in preserving Point Lobos as a national or state park was gaining momentum. As scientists and foresters studied the Monterey Cypress trees growing at Point Lobos and at Cypress Point on the north side of Carmel Bay, they realized these trees do not grow naturally anywhere else in the world. By the mid-1920's, the Save the Redwoods League was actively involved in an effort to preserve the Monterey Cypress. They hired the internationally known landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr., to research Point Lobos and report on the areas most noteworthy of preservation. Olmstead's report described Point Lobos as "the most outstanding example on the coast of California of picturesque rock and surf scenery in combination with unique vegetation, including typical Monterey Cypress." With assistance from the Save the Redwoods League, the State of California purchased 348 acres at Point Lobos from the Allan family in 1933.
In 1928 he prepared a guide for the selection and acquisition of land for the California park system which became a model for other states. Olmsted also devised a master plan for saving the California redwoods.Olmsted remained a partner in the Olmsted firm until his official retirement in 1949, eight years before his death in Malibu, California. For over a half century Olmsted had been a preeminent practitioner and spokesman for landscape architecture and comprehensive planning, both interested in the interrelationship of people and their environment. His concerns for balancing aesthetics and practicality, harmonizing use and beauty, and preserving both natural and manmade landscapes are again at the forefront of the two professions he helped guide and nourish.