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The History of Landscape Architecture                                        

New York Central Park 


Federick Law Olmstead

Father of Landscape Architecture                               

New York Central Park 


The origin of today's profession of landscape architecture can be traced to the early treatments of outdoor space by successive ancient cultures, from Persia and Egypt through Greece and Rome. During the Renaissance, this interest in outdoor space, which had waned during the Middle Ages, was revived with splendid results in Italy and gave rise to ornate villas, and great outdoor piazzas.

These precedents greatly influenced the chateaux and urban gardens of 17th-century France, where landscape architecture and design reached new heights of sophistication and formality. For the first time, the garden designers became well known. Andre le Notre, who designed the gardens at Versailles and Vaux-le-Vicomte, was among the most famous of the early forerunners of today's landscape architects.

In the 18th-century, most English "landscape gardeners," such as Lancelot "Capability" Brown, who remodeled the grounds of Blenheim Palace, rejected the geometric emphasis of the French in favor of imitating the forms of nature. One important exception was Sir Humphrey Repton. He reintroduced formal structure into landscape design with the creation of the first great public park - Victoria Park in London (1845) and Birkenhead Park in Liverpool (1847). In turn, these two parks would greatly influence the development of landscape architecture in the United States and Canada.

Frederick Law Olmstead
"Father of Landscape Architecture"


The history of the profession is often considered to truly begin with Frederick Law Olmsted, who rejected the name "landscape gardener" in favor of the title of "landscape architect," which he felt better reflected the scope of the profession. In 1863, official use of the designation "landscape architect" by New York's park commissioners marked the symbolic genesis of landscape architecture as a modern design profession.

Olmsted was a pioneer and visionary for the profession. His projects, which illustrate the highest of professional standards, include the design of Central Park in New York with Calvert Vaux in the late 1850's and the U.S. Capitol Grounds in the 1870's. Olmsted and his firm advanced the concept of parks as well-designed, functional, public green spaces amid the grayness of the urban areas.


I want to be

a Landscape Architect 

video courtesy of Landscape Institute                                     

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