Six Reads to Learn More About Frederick Law Olmsted

Frederick Law Olmsted was a landscape pioneer, helping to shape the fabric of our public parks and The Biltmore Estate’s stunning gardens, just a few miles away. At The Ramble, his unique blend of natural beauty and stately elegance inspired every inch of this sprawling charming community, driven by conversation and forestry efforts.

If you want to learn more about the man behind modern landscaping, here are six reads that dive into his work, life, and philosophies.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson: A true crime non-fiction involving 1893’s Chicago World’s Fair and a murderous doctor, puts Olmsted in the middle of chaos, grief, and grand lofty ideas of American capabilities. While being a key figure in the development of The Chicago World’s Fair, readers see a man tirelessly working to create something truly special to delight the masses. The book notes that Olmsted is traveling from Chicago to Asheville as he was working on both the Fair and The Biltmore Estate at the same time

The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan: Telling the story of the greatest house in America, Olmsted’s dedication to forestry and conservation is a key part of the legacy and history of The Biltmore Estate and its connection to Western North Carolina.

A Clearing in the Distance by Witold Rybczynsk: A detailed account of Olmsted’s life, career, and travels. From his travels to China to his landscaping work, this intimate and sprawling look at Olmsted is told with clarity and warmth.

Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted by Justin Martinity: A sharp and interesting biography of Olmsted, gives readers a comprehensive fast-paced dive into the man behind Central Park and The Biltmore Estate’s landscaping.

Architects of an American Landscape: Henry Hobson Richardson, Frederick Law Olmsted, and the Reimagining of America’s Public and Private Spaces by Hugh Howard: A look into the relationship between Olmsted and his greatest collaborator Henry Hobson Richardson, showcases another side to his work and life.

Experiencing Olmsted: The Enduring Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted’s North American Landscapes by The Cultural Landscape Foundation: Featuring beautiful photography of Olmsted’s gardens, parks, and landscapes, along with documentation and historical background, this book guides the reader through a visual exploration of Olmsted’s work.