Additional resources concerning Seattle’s Olmsted parks and John Charles Olmsted include:


Celebrating Our Olmsted Legacy Olmsted Park Centennial

This short film was produced in 2003, which marks the Centennial of the Olmsted Brothers’ contribution to the public park and greenbelt system in Seattle, including Seward Park, Colman Park and the Washington Park Arboretum. 

In August 2020, author Jennifer Ott gave an online presentation related to the recent release of her book, Olmsted in Seattle: Creating a Park System for a Modern City.

Publications and Lectures

Olmsted Brothers Park and Boulevard Plans for Seattle

Bound copy of the Seattle Board of Park Commissioners 1909 report, available for purchase, which includes the Olmsted Brothers’ 1903 and 1908 Park and Boulevard Plans for Seattle.

“John Charles Olmsted in the Pacific Northwest”

Laurence Cotton wrote this article about John Charles Olmsted’s work in the Pacific Northwest for the website developed for the PBS documentary Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America. It provides an excellent background in the work John Charles did in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia.

“Revitalization of Olmsted Parks”

Thomas Herrera-Mishler came to Town Hall Seattle on September 9, 2014 to talk about the revitalization of Buffalo, New York’s Olmsted-designed park system. As director of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, he has led the effort to restore historic landscapes and elements of the built environment in the parks.

“Seattle’s Olmsted Landscape Heritage”

This article, published in Puget Soundings in April 1986, was written by then-FSOP president Nancy Becker. The article writes about the city’s Olmsted legacy and early activities of FSOP.

Affiliated Groups

The Arboretum Foundation

The Arboretum Foundation’s mission is to protect and enhance the green space and plant collection of the Arboretum, located within Washington Park, an Olmsted Park. The Arboretum flanks Lake Washington Boulevard, also a part of the Olmsted system. FSOP works closely with project designers providing guidance to ensure that the Olmsted character is retained and reinforced in a project’s design. Recent projects reviewed by FSOP are the new lighting along Lake Washington Boulevard and the north entry design, as part of the SR 520 project.

Seattle Parks and Recreation

Seattle Parks and Recreation (Parks) has many Olmsted parks and boulevards within its 6,000 acre park system. Parks seeks guidance from FSOP on capital projects to ensure that the Olmsted design and character of the parks are preserved. FSOP also advocates for Seattle parks and weighs in on city-wide issues that could affect Olmsted parks and boulevards, including the expansion of the SR520 Bridge and the Bicycle Master Plan.

Volunteer Park Trust

The Volunteer Park Trust is an organization that was formed to fully realize the dream for Seattle’s Olmsted-designed Volunteer Park. Affiliated with FSOP, the Trust works to increase activity in the park, educate the public about the park’s history and its current challenges, and work with the Parks Department to rehabilitate and protect the park’s infrastructure and landscape.

National Association of Olmsted Parks (NAOP)

The NAOP website has a wealth of information about Olmsted-designed landscapes across the country. It also features in-depth essays about the Olmsteds and their design principles and news about preservation efforts that are underway.

Online Research

Olmsted Online

Olmsted Online features 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.

Don Sherwood Files

Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Sherwood History Files, housed at the Seattle Municipal Archives, are the incredible legacy of Donald N. Sherwood (1916-1981), who worked as an engineer for Parks from 1955 to 1977. In the course of his work, Sherwood began compiling sketch maps of the parks, annotating them with historical information and writing individual histories for each facility. In the early 1970’s, Sherwood discovered that older department files were being destroyed as employees retired. Sherwood urged that valuable Parks records be sorted and preserved, and in 1972 he was assigned the responsibility. Some additional material was added to the collection after Sherwood’s retirement in 1977 by various Park Department employees.

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site

Also known as Fairsted, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site preserves and interprets historic structures, grounds and collections associated with the professional design office of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. and the Olmsted firm. It is home to the Olmsted Archives.

The Olmsted Archives

The Photo Albums of The Olmsted Archives, organized by project number, hold digital copies of original plans and other drawings of the Olmsted firm. They are part of the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, operated by the National Park Service.

Olmsted Digital Collection

The Olmsted Digital Collection is administered by the Seattle Municipal Archives and includes digital copy of Olmsted correspondence.

Olmsted Correspondence Collection

The Olmsted Correspondence Collection is held at the Washington State Archives.

Smithsonian’s Biodiversity Heritage Library

The Biodiversity Heritage Library has digitized all of the Bulletins from the Washington Park Arboretum. Search “Olmsted” for these and other publications.

Historic Documents

Volunteer Park Landmark Nomination

In 2011, FSOP submitted a nomination to landmark Volunteer Park with the City of Seattle.

Declaration of the National Association for Olmsted Parks

On the centennial of John Charles Olmsted’s initial visit to Seattle, NAOP issued this declaration.

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