Frederick Olmstead Created City's Park System Over A Century Ago

By Cindi Sullivan

(LOUISVILLE, April 12th, 2004) -- One of the Louisville's greatest assets is its magnificent Olmsted Parks System. WAVE 3's Cindi Sullivan has more on the man who made it all possible.

Imagine if you will, for just a moment, a city without tree lined parkways and public parks -- it was only about 120 years ago that Louisville was just that. It's thanks to the visionary leaders in Louisville in the late 1800s that we enjoy our incredible park system today.

When Frederick Law Olmsted was commissioned to design a park system for Louisville in 1891, he was already thought of as the father of American Landscape Architecture. He was famous for his work in Central Park in New York City, the U.S. Capital Grounds in Washington, and the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.

Perhaps Olmsted's greatest achievement as a landscape architect was the development of the concept of creating a park system -- an entire system that included the parks themselves connected by tree-lined parkways.

Olmsted designed Shawnee Park in the west of Louisville, with broad river views and great lawn for public gatherings, Cherokee park, the eastern park including the meandering Beargrass Creek, and Iroquois Park, the southern park with mature woodlands and scenic overlooks.

The Parks are connected by Eastern Parkway, Southern Parkway and the Western Parkways.

The Louisville Olmsted parks system is considered the ultimate achievement of the great landscape architect's career.

Some people refer to our park system as a jeweled necklace of green that adorns our community. In any case, the park system contributes to our quality of life, not just in the city's center, but throughout the entire Louisville Metro area.