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Olmstead’s Linear Park: Druid Hills, Georgia

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Documentaries, Instagram content, and newsstand print material are all extensive learning sources for those of us interested in everything garden. During our recent lockdown and isolation period, streaming became a great diversion. And a garden magazine article on new plant varieties would bring out the planning notebook and shopping list in a minute. So occasionally, I will post some recommendations of interesting media on our website. 
For all you “anything Olmsted” lovers, I want to recommend an Images of America book recently published by Arcadia about the Olmsted-designed linear park in Atlanta. This segmented park, the only work in the Deep South designed by Olmsted’s firm, was installed in a suburb called Druid Hills beginning in the early twentieth century. After reaching its height in the 1930s, it began to decline. Years later, a group of concerned citizens and professionals worked together to preserve and protect this unique segmented park, and restore it to its natural beauty.
The book, Olmsted’s Linear Park, by Jennifer J. Richardson and Spencer Tunnell II, details the creation, design ideas, and the later life of this unusual park. Joel Hurt, an early land developer in Atlanta, envisioned his 1,400-acre parcel to become an “ideal suburb.” He wanted beautiful homes, curved roadways, rolling hills, and shady lawns to be established in this new suburb. He contacted Olmsted’s firm to lay out the project. As the centerpiece of his design, Olmsted Brothers created six linear parks in the center of the parcel to project a singular vista across the avenue. This concept became the lure to entice the community elite to buy and build in Druid Hills despite numerous building obstacles and a change of ownership.  
Beautiful historic photos, detailed drawing reproductions, and well-written descriptions document the century-long history and preservation of this landscape treasure.
You may also be interested in this PBS documentary Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America
The year 2022 marks the 200 year anniversary of Olmstead’s birth, and a number of events and exhibits are planned to honor him. Check out events near you at the Olmstead 200 website

 

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