Southern Agenda

A Walk in the Park

Illustration: Tim Bower

Lauded as the father of landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted left his green thumbprint all over the country. While Manhattan’s Central Park, the Biltmore estate in Asheville, and Stanford University’s campus in California may be his most famous designs, one of his most extensive works can be found in Louisville, where seventeen public parks make up the Olmsted Park System. “Olmsted shaped the city—quite literally,” says Layla George, president of the city’s Olmsted Parks Conservancy. He strategically placed the three flagship parks beyond the urban core—Cherokee to the east, Iroquois to the south, and Shawnee tucked alongside the Ohio River to the west—and the city grew out toward them. This year, spaces designed by Olmsted around the country are celebrating the two hundredth anniversary of the architect’s birth, and Louisville will see the groundbreaking of a twenty-five-acre enlargement of Cherokee Park—the first major expansion since the system’s founding in 1891.