FrederickLawOlmsted.com
A celebration of the life and work of Frederick Law Olmsted, founder of American landscape architecture.

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...Frederick Law Olmsted's work has passed the test of time; his work in Druid Hills set the stage and continues to influence metro Atlanta...
-Tina Fountain




Andrew Jackson Downing

A.J. Downing (1815 - 1852) was one of the most important pre-Civil War designers and writers in America. He began his career as a landscaper and soon founded the magazine, The Horticulturist. Through the magazine, Downing was able to promote scientific agriculture, a school of farming that Olmsted was also interested in.

In 1842 Downing collaborated with Alexander Jackson Davis on the book Cottagedowning.gif (85943 bytes) Residences, which was a pattern book of houses that mixed the aspects of romantic architecture with the pastoral picturesque architecture of the English country side. These cottages were simple dwellings void of the exotic trappings that Downing feared were not good for the soul.

Most of Downing's theories about housing were derived from the writings of John Claudius Loudon, and Englishman who advocated the cleansing of the soul through living in a rural, uncomplicated way. Downing was also influenced by his democratic desire to create places that would be enjoyed by all classes of society.

This desire lead Downing to begin to advocate large inner city parks. Like Olmsted, Downing, saw a civilizing aspect of open spaces, and wanted to bring one to nearby New York City. Finally, after many years, New York City set aside land for Central Park. Downing and his partner Calvert Vaux devised preliminary plans for the park. Unfortunately, in 1852, as the two worked on the plans, tragedy struck as the steam boat Downing was riding on blew up, and Downing drowned.

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