The National Association for Olmsted Parks (NAOP) announces the launch of Olmsted Online, an interactive website to showcase Olmsted landscapes. In partnership with the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, National Park Service, and Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks, NAOP initiated a pilot project to digitize historic documents for Olmsted Brothers-designed parks and parkways and boulevards in Seattle, Washington. Olmsted Online also includes information for more than 200 private and public Olmsted projects across Washington State, and thousands of other landscapes throughout North America, from the grounds of public institutions to private residences, university campuses, arboreta, playgrounds and more.
Integrating scanned original drawings with data from the Olmsted National Historic Site, NAOP developed a map-linked database that will ultimately encompass information for all Olmsted landscapes across North America and around the world.
NAOP Executive Director Iris Gestram said, “The Olmsted firm left a vast archive of invaluable documents—everything from plant lists to client correspondence, plans and maps, reports, photographs and drawings. Until now this information has only been available in specialized archives. Olmsted Online provides new research tools for historians, landscape architects, planners, and park and transportation professionals. And we hope it will inspire residents and visitors to learn more about the history and future of some of the most effective and beautiful landscapes ever designed.”
Through Olmsted Online, users can explore Olmsted landscapes by map, search for a nearby park by name or location, find landscapes by keyword, browse a photo gallery, view historic plans on a base map and download digital copies for further examination and comparison. Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks President Jennifer Ott said, “FSOP is thrilled about the launch of Olmsted Online. It will open up our region’s Olmsted history to a whole new audience by making information about the Olmsted Brothers’ work here more accessible and engaging. It will also support our advocacy work by making the plans and correspondence that relate to these historic landscapes readily available.”
The pilot project has been made possible by a $235,000 Transportation Enhancement grant administered by the State of Washington Department of Transportation for creation of Olmsted Online, to include historic parks, parkways, boulevards and road networks the firm designed. An additional grant of $5,000 from Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks enabled NAOP to enrich the descriptive content of the site. Applied Geographics of Boston led the technical development team. Iris Gestram noted, “We are indebted to our technical project partners, the Olmsted National Historic Site and Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks for their exceptional support of Olmsted Online.”
NAOP is building partnerships with organizations, individuals and sponsors to add new data to Olmsted Online. The project will also import additional types of base maps and data layers and offer interactive opportunities for users to upload new photos and descriptions and geotag, or map, Olmsted plans, correspondence and reports. Organizations and individuals are encouraged to contact NAOP to become actively engaged as a project partner or sponsor by contacting NAOP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Association for Olmsted Parks is a coalition of design and preservation professionals, historic property and park managers, scholars, municipal officials, citizen activists and representatives of numerous Olmsted organizations. Its concern is the legacy of landscape work left by Frederick Law Olmsted and the firm continued by his sons. Established in 1980, NAOP is the only national organization solely dedicated to preserving the Olmsted legacy by providing the advocacy, research, education and outreach needed to protect, restore and maintain these exemplary parks and landscapes, particularly in urban areas. NAOP is the fiscal sponsor and administrator of The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted Project. www.olmsted.org.
Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, National Park Service, is the former home and office of Frederick Law Olmsted and the Olmsted firm. Known as Fairsted, the office complex holds nearly 1,000,000 original design records of the nation’s first landscape architecture firm. http://www.nps.gov/frla/index.htm.
The Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks is a 501(c) 3 organization dedicated to raising awareness and protecting Seattle’s Olmsted park and boulevard system. www.seattleolmsted.org.