Olmstead and the Angel- A Hero Banner for Frederick Law Olmstead


Olmstead and the Angel

Calvert Vaux, the partner and friend of Frederick Law Olmsted, urged Olmsted to explore the land that would become the great public park of New York City. The two friends tramped over and mapped the acreage many times noting what topographical landmarks should be preserved and featured and which areas needed focal points and restructuring.

The organization of the water: swamps, ponds, rills, lakes and reservoirs was an amazing engineering project. The ideas of constructing meadows, dingles and dells; below eye-level motor traffic; quiet glades and public gathering spots, boggles the mind.

Olmsted wrote prolifically about his philosophy of the Public Park. He stressed the value of parks as civilizing institutions for a democratic system. He insisted that a great public park, which brought the calm and beauty of the countryside into an urban area, would result in a higher level of civilization for all who used the park.  The Bethesda Fountain angel came much later. She is such a heavy angel that she seems strong enough to help spread out the plan.