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This title in other editions

A Clearing In the Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and America in the Nineteenth Century

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A Clearing In the Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and America in the Nineteenth Century Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

From Powells.com:

Rarely are biographer and subject so well-matched as in Witold Rybczynski's seminal biography of the great nineteenth century landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted. In such classic works as Home: The Short History of an Idea and City Life, Rybczynski, Professor of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania, has established his reputation as America's most insightful and eloquent commentator on the environments we create for ourselves. And though it is true that landscaping has hardly remained a great American art form, one of the greatest benefits of reading this book is the realization that it once was, and that Olmsted was possibly its greatest proponent.

Though today he is most often remembered as the designer of New York's Central Park, in his own time Olmsted was known for his diverse and prodigious accomplishments. World traveler, noted journalist (he cofounded The Nation), early abolitionist, and high level bureaucrat (during the Civil War he served as general secretary to the United States Sanitary Commission, the precursor of the Red Cross), Olmsted's life reads like the quintessential nineteenth century, larger-than-life, can-do visionary. But Olmsted's greatest legacy was the impact he had on the way we shape the communities we live in. He designed the first large suburban community in the United States, foresaw the need for national parks, and devised one of the country's first regional plans. What makes this book such a pleasure is Rybczynski's ability to convey to his readers the passion he clearly feels for his subject and to demonstrate the enormous effect this largely unknown character had on the lives we live today. A Clearing in the Distance also demonstrates the need for a thoughtful, informed discussion of which aspects of Olmsted's vision should be remembered and reclaimed. Farley, Powells.com

Publisher Comments:

In a brilliant collaboration between writer and subject, Witold Rybczynski, the bestselling author of andlt;Iandgt;Homeandlt;/Iandgt; and andlt;Iandgt;City Life,andlt;/Iandgt; illuminates Frederick Law Olmsted's role as a major cultural figure at the epicenter of nineteenth-century American history. andlt;BRandgt; We know Olmsted through the physical legacy of his stunning landscapes — among them, New York's Central Park, California's Stanford University campus, and Boston's Back Bay Fens. But Olmsted's contemporaries knew a man of even more extraordinarily diverse talents. Born in 1822, he traveled to China on a merchant ship at the age of twenty-one. He cofounded andlt;Iandgt;The Nationandlt;/Iandgt; magazine and was an early voice against slavery. He managed California's largest gold mine and, during the Civil War, served as the executive secretary to the United States Sanitary Commission, the precursor of the Red Cross. andlt;BRandgt; Rybczynski's passion for his subject and his understanding of Olmsted's immense complexity and accomplishments make his book a triumphant work. In andlt;Iandgt;A Clearing in the Distance,andlt;/Iandgt; the story of a great nineteenth-century American becomes an intellectual adventure.

Review:

"Goes a long way toward capturing Olmsted the man.... [A] biography that communicates, with feeling, the ups and downs of Olmsted's career as well as of the profession he helped to invent." The Wall Street Journal

Review:

"[An] excellent biography.... a straightforward work, thorough and respectful, yet easeful in a way that is reminiscent of Olmsted himself." The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"Rybczynski allows Olmsted's belief in the edifying affects of landscape to emerge gradually within his involving account of Olmsted's extraordinarily productive life, leaving readers impressed with and grateful for Olmsted's vision and his ability to express it on such a grand and significant scale." Donna Seaman, Booklist

Review:

"Rybczynski is a fine writer and thinker, and this is a magisterial biography of a man who deserves the widest possible recognition." Kirkus Reviews

Description:

Includes bibliographical references (p. 429-460) and index.

About the Author

Witold Rybczynski is the author of eight books, including Home: The Short History of an Idea, Waiting for the Weekend, and City Life. The Martin and Margy Meyerson Professor of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania, he is a regular contributor to The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and The New York Review of Books.

Table of Contents

Contents

Foreword

Schemes

1. "Tough as nails"

2. Frederick goes to school

3. Hartford

4. "I have no objection"

5. New York

6. A year before the mast

7. Friends

8. Farming

9. More farming

10. A walking tour in the old country

Jostling and Being Jostled

11. Mr. Downing's magazine

12. Olmsted falls in love and finishes his book

13. Charley Brace intervenes

14. Yeoman

15. A traveling companion

16. The Texas settlers

17. Yeoman makes a decision

18. "Much the best Mag. in the world"

19. Abroad

Hitting Heads

20. A change in fortune

21. The Colonel meets his match

22. Mr. Vaux

23. A brilliant solution

24. A promotion

25. Frederick and Mary

26. Comptroller Green

27. King Cotton

28. A good big work

29. Yeoman's war

30. "Six months more pretty certainly"

31. A letter from Dana

32. Never happier

33. Olmsted shortens sail

34. A heavy sort of book

35. Calvert Vaux doesn't take no for an answer

36. Loose ends

A Magnificent Opening

37. Olmsted and Vaux plan a perfect park

38. Metropolitan

39. A stopover in Buffalo

40. Thirty-nine thousand trees

41. Best-laid plans

42. Henry Hobson Richardson

43. Olmsted's dilemma

44. Alone

45. "More interesting than nature"

46. Olmsted in demand

47. "I shall be free from it on the 1st of January"

Standing First

48. An arduous convalescence

49. Fairstead

50. The character of his business

51. The sixth park

52. Olmsted meets the Governor

53. Olmsted and Vaux, together again

54. "Make a small pleasure ground and gardens"

55. Olmsted drives hard

56. The fourth muse

57. Dear Rick

58. Sunset

Olmsted's Distant Effects

Distant Effects

A Selected List of Olmsted Projects

Acknowledgments

Notes

Index

Illustration and Photograph Credits

Product Details

ISBN:
9780684865751
Author:
Rybczynski, Witold
Publisher:
Scribner Book Company
Location:
New York :
Subject:
Artists, Architects, Photographers
Subject:
Biography
Subject:
Historical - U.S.
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Landscape
Subject:
United States - 19th Century
Subject:
Journalists
Subject:
19th century
Subject:
Landscape architecture
Subject:
Landscape architects
Subject:
Editors, Journalists, Publishers
Subject:
History
Subject:
United States Civilization.
Subject:
Olmsted, Frederick Law
Subject:
Biography-Artists Architects and Photographers
Subject:
architecture; urbanism; urban design; city planning; University of Pennsylvania School of Design; Vincent Scully Prize; J. Anthony Lukas Prize; Slate; urban future; urban planning; social history; environmentalist; clearing; Central Park; New York City; F
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st Touchstone ed.
Edition Description:
B102
Series Volume:
FS-179-99
Publication Date:
July 2000
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
two 8pp b-w photo insert; bandamp;w line
Pages:
480
Dimensions:
8.44 x 5.5 in 14.91 oz

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Architects
Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Landscape Architecture
Biography » Artists, Architects, and Photographers
Biography » General
Biography » Historical
History and Social Science » US History » 19th Century

A Clearing In the Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and America in the Nineteenth Century Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.50 In Stock
Product details 480 pages SIMON & SCHUSTER TRADE - English 9780684865751 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Goes a long way toward capturing Olmsted the man.... [A] biography that communicates, with feeling, the ups and downs of Olmsted's career as well as of the profession he helped to invent."
"Review" by , "[An] excellent biography.... a straightforward work, thorough and respectful, yet easeful in a way that is reminiscent of Olmsted himself."
"Review" by , "Rybczynski allows Olmsted's belief in the edifying affects of landscape to emerge gradually within his involving account of Olmsted's extraordinarily productive life, leaving readers impressed with and grateful for Olmsted's vision and his ability to express it on such a grand and significant scale."
"Review" by , "Rybczynski is a fine writer and thinker, and this is a magisterial biography of a man who deserves the widest possible recognition."
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