The Urban Design Project, School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Buffalo has published Olmsted in Buffalo and Niagara, a history and guidebook written about visionary landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and the remarkable park systems he designed in Western New York at the end of the 19th century. Olmsted worked for 30 years in Buffalo and Niagara Falls.
The book is authored by Lynda Schneekloth, ASLA, Robert Shibley, FAIA and Thomas Yots, M. Arch.
The Olmsted Parks Conservancy notes Delaware Park (pictured) was the centerpiece of the Buffalo park system and ''one of the relatively few true parks'' he created, meaning Olmsted considered only a large, natural setting that completely isolated from the urban environment could truly be called a park. Olmsted selected this site. The park has a lake, a large meadow and significant woods.
The authors say Olmsted imprinted his vision about the power of nature to heal and enrich urban life in Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Assisted by his sons and by business partner Calvin Vaux, he gave Western New York two of its most important works, the Buffalo Olmsted Park and Parkway System, and the Niagara Reservation.
''He left behind something much more complex and integral to the city: six parks and the greenways that connect them,'' says Schneekloth. ''This vision of a green necklace running through what Olmsted called the 'best planned city in America.'''
Olmsted was also a major force in the ''Free Niagara'' movement, restoring landscapes around Niagara Falls.
Yots says the creation of the Niagara Reservation, the oldest state park in the U.S., assures the preservation of Niagara Falls, or as Olmsted said, ''preserved in the picturesque condition in which it was originally laid out by the hands of nature.'''
Olmsted, for most people, means Central Park, but of course he enjoyed hundreds of commissions for important private estates, major academic campuses and state and provincial parks throughout the U.S. and Canada, among them the U.S. Capital grounds and about a dozen parks and parkways in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island.
Today, the not-for-profit Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy promotes, preserves, restores, enhances and ensures maintenance of the Olmsted Parks and Parkways in the greater Buffalo area, with the assistance of a battalion of volunteers.
Olmsted aficionados will certainly enjoy this book, which can be purchased for $12.95 at BuffaloBooks.com or at bookstores.
About the authors:
Lynda Schneekloth is a landscape architect and professor emerita of architecture at the UB School of Architecture and Planning. She is director of landscape for the university's Urban Design Project and author or co-author of six books, including The Olmsted City, with Shibley; Reconsidering Concrete Atlantis: Buffalo's Grain Elevators; and ''Changing Places: Remaking Institutional Buildings.''
Robert Shibley, FAIA, is dean of the UB School of Architecture and Planning, founder of the Urban Design Project and a certified planner. He and Schneekloth have co-author Placemaking: The Art and Science of Building a Community.''
Thomas Yots, a public school teacher for 31 years, has a master's in architecture and is a noted Buffalo/Niagara Falls writer, preservationist and specialist in adaptive reuse. With Schneekloth, he co-authored The Power Trail: Hydroelectricity at Niagara and contributed to Schneekloth's Reconsidering Atlantis. Yots serves on the executive committee of the not-for-profit Preservation Buffalo Niagara, and is former city historian of Niagara Falls, N.Y.