Frederick Law Olmsted And Camillo Sitte: Urban Law

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FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED AND CAMILLO SITTE: NOT AS DIFFERENT AS THEY FIRST APPEAR Harkening from different sides of the Atlantic, two influential urban planners worked to transform the blossoming urban environment of the nineteenth century, albeit with very different approaches. This essay will be looking at the ideals and some of the work of Frederick Law Olmsted and Camillo Sitte. Born within just over twenty years of one and other, Olmsted in Hartford, Connecticut, and Sitte in Vienna, both men had careers encompassing fields well beyond urban planning. Not a planner by training, Olmsted delved into the world of planning when he and Calvert Vaux won the design competition for New York’s Central Park in 1858. Camillo Sitte was schooled as an…show more content…
His ideas were the product of a diverse early career; all of his experiences pre-planning (pre-1958, essentially) informed his designs down the road. Having spent a lot of time farming, Olmsted was fond of, and personally felt a connection to, transcendental ideals. He valued man’s connection with nature as a divine and important part of life. Olmsted’s quintessential love of nature springing from his farming days was compounded, firstly, by his inspiration from Andrew Jackson Downing. Downing was a mid 19th century author who wrote best selling books about rural life. Marketed to those cramped in developing cities, Downing’s work spread pastoral ideals of small town living. His works included sketches of modest cottages surrounded by greenery and space. This work would have surely resonated with the urban middle and upper class, who had the means to commute and live this idealistic lifestyle, and it would have tugged at the heartstrings of the working class, who were stuck in the cities. These facets of inspiration directed how Olmsted thought individual ought to interact with parks and open spaces. On top of Downing’s work, Olmsted’s trip to England in 1850 heavily influenced his landscape design tendencies. Olmsted loved the naturalistic English landscape design. Additionally, Olmsted took walking tours of towns and witnessed the horrific living conditions of the working class. This inspired him to design parks and spaces accessible…show more content…
At the outset, there didn’t seem to be a link between the two. What has emerged through researching Olmsted and Sitte is an unlikely connection between the underlying goals of their designs. Both planners wanted individuals to enjoy the spaces that they occupied, albeit from totally different approaches. It is observed through specific analysis of green space and flow that a clear connection in design motivation between Olmsted and Sitte. Given the short length of the paper, there wasn’t room to analyze Olmsted’s later work in relation to Sitte’s, however the material covered provides a good start into this
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