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Olmsted, Frederick Law

OLMSTED, FREDERICK LAW (1822-1903), American landscape architect, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, on the 27th of April 1822. From his earliest years he was a wanderer. WhOe still a lad he shipped before the mast as a sailor; then he took a course in the Yale Scientific School; worked for several farmers; and, finally, began farming for himself on Staten Island, where he met Calvert Vaux, with whom later he formed a business partnership. All this time he wrote for the agricultural papers. In 1850 he made a walking tour through England, his observations being published in Walks and Talks of an American Farmer in England (1852). A horseback trip through the Southern States was recorded in A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States (1856), A Journey through Texas (1857) and A Journey in the Back Cotmtry (1860). These three volumes, reprinted in England in two as Journeys and Explorations in the Cotton Kingdom (1861), gave a picture of the conditions surrounding American slavery that had great influence on British opinion, and they were much quoted in the controversies at the time of the Civil War. During the war he was the untiring secretary of the U.S. Sanitary Commission. He happened to be in New York City when Central Park was projected, and, in conjunction with Vaux, proposed the plan which, in competition with more than thirty others, won first prize. Olmsted was made superintendent to carry out the plan. This was practically the first attempt in the United States to apply art to the improvement or embellishment of nature in a public park; it attracted great attention, and the work was so satisfactorily done that he was engaged thereafter in most of the important works of a similar nature in America - Prospect Park, Brooklyn; Fairmount Park, Philadelphia; South Park, Chicago; Riverside and Morningside Parks, New York; Mount Royal Park, Montreal; the grounds surrounding the Capitol at Washington, and at Leland Stanford University at Palo Alto (California) ; and many others. He took the bare stretch of lake front at Chicago and developed it into the beautiful World's Fair grounds, placing all the buildings and contributing much to the architectural beauty and the success of the exposition. He was greatly interested in the Niagara reservation, made the plans for the park there, and also did much to influence the state of New York to provide the Niagara Park. He was the first commissioner of the National Park of the Yosemite and the Mariposa Grove, directing the survey and taking charge of the property for the state of California. He had also held directing appointments under the cities of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Wilmington and San Francisco, the Joint Committee on Buildings and Grounds of Congress, the Niagara Falls Reservation Commission, the trustees of Harvard, Yale, Amherst and other colleges and public institutions. Subsequently to 1886 he was largely occupied in laying out an extensive system of parks and parkways for the city of Boston and the town of Brookline, and on a scheme of landscape improvement of Boston harbour. Olmsted received honorary degrees from Harvard, Amherst and Yale in 1864, 1867 and 1893. He died on the 28th of August 1903.

OLMUTZ (Czech, Olontouc or Holomauc), a town of Austria, in Moravia, 67 m. N.E. of Briinn by rail. Pop. (1900) 21,033, of which two-thirds are Germans. It is situated on the March, and is the ecclesiastical metropolis of Moravia. Until 1886 Olmiitz was one of the strongest fortresses of Austria, but the fortifications have been removed, and their place is occupied by a town park, gardens and promenades. Like most Slavonic towns, it contains several large squares, the chief of which is adorned with a trinity column, 115 ft. high, erected in 1740. The most prominent church is the cathedral, a Gothic building of the 14th century, restored in 1883-1886, with a tower 328 ft. high and the biggest church-bell in Moravia. It contains the tomb of King Wcnceslaus III., who was murdered here in 1306. The Mauritius church, a fine Gothic building of the 15th century, and the St Michael church are also worth mentioning. The principal secular building is the town-hall, completed in the 15th century, flanked on one side by a Gothic chapel, transformed now into a museum. It possesses a tower 250 ft. high, adorned with an astronomical clock, an artistic and famous work, executed by Anton Pohl in 1422. The old university, founded in 1570 and suppressed in 1858, is now represented by a theological seminary, which contains a very valuable library and an important collection of manuscripts and early prints. Olmiitz is an important railway junction, and is the emporium of a busy mining and industrial district. Its industries include brewing and distilling and the manufacture of malt, sugar and starch.

Olmiitz is said to occupy the site of a Roman fort founded in the imperial period, the original name of which, Mons Juiii, has been gradually corrupted to the present form. At a later period Olmiitz was long the capital of the Slavonic kingdom of Moravia, but it ceded that position to Briinn in 1640. The Mongols were defeated here in 1241 by Yaroslav von Sternberg. During the Thirty Years' War it was occupied by the Swedes for eight years. The town was originally fortified by Maria Theresa during the wars with Frederick the Great, who besieged the town unsuccessfully for seven weeks in 1758. In 1848 Olmiitz was the scene of the emperor Ferdinand's abdication, and in 1850 an important conference took place here between Austrian and German statesmen. The bishopric of Olmiitz was founded in 1073, and raised to the rank of an archbishopric in 1777. The bishops were created princes of the empire in 1588. The archbishop is the only one in the Austrian empire who is elected by the cathedral chapter.

See W. Miiller, Geschichte der kdniglichen Hauptstadi Olmiitz (2nd ed., Olmiitz, 1895).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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