Frederick Law Olmsted – Creating a Beautiful Landscape Last Updated: July 2022

Did you know that the father of architectural landscape was born and raised in Connecticut? The brilliant mind behind Central Park, the United States Capitol Grounds, the grounds of the 1893 Columbia Exposition, Boston Fens, and more, spent his early years exploring the scenic Connecticut countryside – and it’s no surprise that the state’s natural beauty influenced his career path.

2022 marks the 200th anniversary of Fredrick Law Olmsted’s birth, and the state is celebrating his impact on Connecticut’s outdoor offerings. Here are a handful of Connecticut parks Olmsted designed – all worth visiting!

Photo credit: The Olmsted Legacy Trail

 

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Walnut Hill Park, New Britain

Walnut Hill Park in New Britain was originally designed by Olmsted to highlight the natural features and location, which overlooks downtown New Britain. Throughout time, many designers have contributed to the landscape, resulting in a beautiful blend of trees, walkways, flowerbeds, and even the iconic band shell where bands perform live.

 

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Keney Park, Hartford

Stretching across 693.6-acres, Keney park is one of the largest parks in New England, providing not only neighborhood recreation in a historic designed landscape, but also ecologically rich environments. The park boasts a beautiful, natural look, highlighting typical regional landscapes such as meadows and forests. Plus, don’t miss Keney Park Golf Course!

 

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Grounds of Institute of Living, Hartford

In the south end of Hartford near his childhood home, Olmsted designed the grounds for The Institute of Living. As Olmsted believed in the rejuvenating power of nature, his landscape plans often included long paths through the scenery — just as the 35 acres at The Institute of Living are designed. The grounds include a public trail which feautures historic notable trees for Connecticut.

 

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Seaside Park, Bridgeport

With its 325 acres of lush lawns, shady glades and sports fields rolling toward Long Island Sound, this extensive municipal park offers many amenities including a bathing beach, bath house, ball fields, picnic areas and hiking trails. Visitors are delighted by the beaches, surf, and sunshine along three miles of sparkling coastline. The park was laid out just after the Civil War by Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, and the landscape has proved timeless as they entice each new generation of park-goers.

 

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Beardsley Park, Bridgeport

Home to the only Zoological Garden in Connecticut, Beardsley Park is set on 125 acres of land and stands remarkably similar to Olmsted's original 1884 design. Stroll through the park and encounter bridges, open fields overlooking Bunnell's Pond, rolling topography, and wooded areas, and a running stream.