Olmsted Legacy Task Force Meetings in 2018

FSOP is excited to be partnering with Seattle Parks and Recreation on the Olmsted Legacy Task Force. The task force is made up of members of the FSOP board, staff members from several city departments, representatives of community organizations, such as Historic Seattle, Volunteer Park Trust, the Associated Recreation Council, Seattle Youth Soccer Association, and others. The task force will meet monthly during 2018 and the public is encouraged to attend the meetings. The next meeting is scheduled for May 30th at Parks headquarters in Denny Park at 6:30 p.m.

The task force grew out of meetings between Parks and FSOP about how to more proactively rehabilitate and preserve the city’s historic park system. As the task force web page explains, “Park planners across the country recognize Seattle’s Olmsted park system as one of the best preserved and best designed in the United States. More importantly, while many eastern cities have only one or two Olmsted-designed parks, Seattle has an extensive multi-park plan linked by boulevards. It is this legacy that makes Seattle one of the most livable spots in the country…The creation of the Olmsted Task Force is a deepening of the relationship between SPR and FSOP for the benefit of the parks in our community.”

The taskforce will focus on developing recommendations to the Superintendent and the Board of Park Commissioners. Some of these include:

• Specific standards of design related to maintaining the character and effect of the Olmsted Parks, such as park furniture, lighting, signage, and landscaping
• Best practices for maintaining our Olmsted parks and boulevards
• Educational programs for informing the public about the Olmsted legacy in Seattle
• Innovative approaches for managing Olmsted parks and boulevards
• How best to export Olmsted design elements to other parks in Seattle; how to improve existing and create new green connections between our parks
• How to prioritize funding for the recommendations above to be considered in the next iteration of the Park District funding package
• Creating a sustainable connection between SPR and the community and to improve on the existing connection between SPR and FSOP

For more information, visit the task force webpage or email friends@seattleolmsted.org.

black and white line drawing map of Seattle in 1908, showing hatched areas for existing and proposed parks and boulevard or parkway swaths.
Olmsted Park and Boulevard System, 1908. Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, 2390.

We are developing a book about Seattle’s Olmsted legacy!

The Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks has joined with HistoryLink to produce a book about the Olmsted legacy in Seattle. FSOP sees this book as providing a much-needed tool and educational resource toward advocacy and protection of our Olmsted park and boulevard system, which is the foundation of the Seattle park system. Our current Olmsted parks system can be difficult to define by nature of its nuanced design, broad distribution, age, and continued evolution. By more fully describing the thinking of John Charles Olmsted and his associates and placing it to our modern-day city, we can create a fuller, more comprehensible rendering of this legacy.

We are thrilled that HistoryLink historian Jennifer Ott will be writing this book. She has a master’s degree in environmental and Western American history and has published numerous articles about Olmsted Brothers’ landscapes. Her nine years of experience on the FSOP board, and her extensive work on the Volunteer Park Trust steering committee, makes her the perfect choice.

HistoryLink has been publishing top-quality books for more than 15 years. They have recently partnered with Documentary Media and have produced titles such as Waterway: The Story of Seattle’s Locks and Ship Canal, co-authored by Jennifer Ott.

We are joining with HistoryLink to raise money for this book and hope that you will consider a donation, working towards our goal of $95,000. The book will be released mid-year 2019. Donors will receive a copy upon publication and will be listed in the book.

Donations can be made directly to HistoryLink at HistoryLink.org, or sent to:

HistoryLink
93 Pike Street, Suite 315B
Seattle WA 98101

Please note on your donation that you want this gift to go to the Olmsted Book Project. All proceeds from sales of the book will go to FSOP.

Book Details:
144 pages 
overall dimension — 10″ x 9″
over 100 images (both color and black and white)
5,000-copy first edition
cover price: $34.95
release date: Summer 2019

Color photo of woodland path with arching branches full of yellowing leaves overhead. A lighter path and brighter foliage in background indicate a clearing in the woods. Image is bordered at top and bottom with black bands and light text: text at top reads "Olmsted in Seattle; How the Olmsted Brothers Created Seattle's Park System," and text at bottom reads "by Jennifer Ott and the HistoryLink Staff."

2017 Walking Tour Schedule

Join us for monthly walking tours in Seattle’s Olmsted parks and start your weekend with a dose of beauty, nature, and history! The tours are FREE, appropriate for all ages and last approximately 2 hours. Contact friends@seattleolmsted.org for more information about specific tours.

All tours start at 10:00 a.m.

May 20th
Seward Park 
Meet at Seward Park Audubon Center.

June 17th
Jefferson Park
Meet at Jefferson Community Center (south side entrance).

July 15th
Green Lake Park
Meet at Green Lake Community Center (entrance at northeast corner).

August 19th
Hiawatha Playfield
Meet on west side of Hiawatha Community Center.

September 16th
Washington Park Arboretum
Meet at Graham Visitor Center.
*This is the FSOP annual meeting, please join us for potluck lunch after the tour.

Black and white photo of school-age kids playing, standing and sitting on lawn interspersed with trees.
Hiawatha Park, 1925. Photo by Asahel Curtis. Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, 64050.

Public Meetings for SAAM Expansion Project in Volunteer Park

Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks has been involved in reviewing proposed plans for the Seattle Asian Art Museum renovation and expansion project. We wrote a letter in June to the Landmarks Board outlining our concerns about the loss of park land, the need to effectively integrate any modifications into the surrounding park, and the impact the project would have on users. You can read our letter here: Landmarks Board Letter.

FSOP will be reviewing revised plans on Monday, September 26th. We will be sending a letter to the Landmarks Board in response to those new plans and posting information on our home page.

Please attend the following public meetings to learn more about the project and to provide feedback on the proposed plans:

SAT OCT 15 2016
Asian Art Museum
1400 E Prospect St, Seattle WA 98112

SAT NOV 19 2016
Asian Art Museum
1400 E Prospect St, Seattle WA 98112

SAT DEC 10 2016
Asian Art Museum
1400 E Prospect St, Seattle WA 98112

Black and white aerial view of linear breezeway structure with slightly larger, peaked square structures at each end and a peaked oval structure bisecting the middle. A drive with pullouts and a broad walk are seen in front of the breezeway. Conifer trees and clipped lawn are in background.
Volunteer Park Concert Grove and Pergola, 1910. This structure was demolished in 1932 to make way for the Seattle Art Museum. Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, 30464

2016 Summer Walking Tours

Join us for monthly walking tours in Seattle’s Olmsted parks and start your weekend with a dose of beauty, nature, and history! Appropriate for all ages and lasting approximately 2 hours. Contact friends@seattleolmsted.org for more information about specific tours.

July 9th
Colman Park
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Meet at the parking lot at the base of Colman Park (access from Lake Washington Boulevard).

August 20th
Magnolia Blvd 
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Meet at the parking lot on Magnolia Blvd W near Howe St.

September 17th
Woodland Park
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Meet at the parking lot near the Woodland Park Lawn Bowling area.
*This is the FSOP annual meeting, please join us for potluck lunch after the tour in Shelter #4 (up the hill from the Woodland Park Lawn Bowling building).

color photo of six individuals standing under arbor on a sunny day. All are facing to the right, apparently at someone off-camera.
Washington Park Tour, 2015.

Olmsted Correspondence Accessible Online

We are excited to announce that the Olmsted Correspondence project is complete! FSOP, working in conjunction with the Washington State Archives, has indexed 29 jobs’ correspondence related to the Olmsted Brothers firm’s Seattle projects.

More than 1,200 documents have been scanned and indexed and can be accessed via the Washington State Digital Archives at:https://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov/Collections/TitleInfo/2017.

The indexing allows us to search the correspondence by job number, job name, author or recipient, landscape feature type, document type, and topics, people, or organizations.

The work was done by FSOP volunteers and indexers funded by the Washington State Department of Transportation as part of the Section 106 mitigation agreed upon for the SR520 Bridge Replacement and HOV project.

We’d like to thank Mary Hammer, Michael Dwyer, and June Timmons from the Washington State Archives for their assistance in developing an indexing system and creating the online interface for the project. We’d also like to thank Olivia Johnson, Marta Olson, and Adrienne Sharigian for their work on the project.

Having the correspondence available online and searchable will make it easier to find information related to specific projects, trace the development of landscape features and plans, and see how the different elements were intended to work together as a system.

Black and white scan of a typewritten page with heading "Schmitz Park" and subheading "Visit by J.C.O. . . . 9th June, 1911."
John Charles Olmsted field note from visit to Schmitz Park, 1911.

Three New Books about Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr.

Seattle’s Olmsted, John Charles, was the nephew and stepson of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., known as the father of American landscape architecture. The senior Olmsted was renowned for his work in Central Park, the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, among many others. He was also a prolific writer on a wide variety of subjects.

The New York Review of Books has an extensive review of three new books about the Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. :

Frederick Law Olmsted: Writings on Landscape, Culture, and Society
edited by Charles E. Beveridge

The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted, Volume IX: The Last Great Projects, 1890–1895
edited by David Schuyler, Gregory Kaliss, and Jeffrey Schlossberg

Frederick Law Olmsted: Plans and Views of Public Parks
edited by Charles E. Beveridge, Lauren Meier, and Irene Mills

Any one of these would be a great read as winter winds down and our beautiful parks fill with spring blossoms.

Painted image of an elderly, gray-bearded man walking with a cane through a woodland garden. On top of the image is text reading "Olmsted" and "Writings on Landscape, Culture, and Society."

Summer 2015 Walking Tours Announced

Getting to Know the Seattle Olmsted Park System

Join us for monthly walking tours in Seattle’s Olmsted parks and start your weekend with a dose of beauty, nature, and history! They are held on 3rd Saturdays (except August) and begin at 10:00 AM, lasting approximately two hours. Appropriate for all ages. These walks are free and open to all, and go on rain or shine. There is no need to register in advance. Contact friends@seattleolmsted.org for more information about specific tours.

2015 Summer Walking Tour Schedule

May 16th
Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition at the University of Washington campus
Meet at the entrance to the Burke Museum.

June 20th
Washington Park Arboretum
Meet at the Graham Visitor Center.

July 18th
Madrona Park and Frink Park
Meet at Leschi Elementary School parking lot.

September 19th
Volunteer Park
Meet at the Black Sun sculpture across from the Seattle Asian Art Museum.
*This is the FSOP annual meeting, please join us for potluck lunch after the tour.

colorized photo from old postcard showing aerial view of central plaza, bordered by red-roofed buildings, with cascading pools to large round pool, all centered on-axis with a distant view to Mt. Rainier. Text on postcard reads, "Mt. Rainier and Court of Honor, as seen from the US Government Building, Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Seattle, Wash., 1909. (Official Post Card)"
Rainier Vista, Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, 1909. Courtesy J&A Collection.

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