Frederick Law Olmsted

Olmsted spent his first two adult decades searching for a calling while remaining financially dependent on his father, a prosperous dry goods merchant and descendant of a prominent Puritan family in Hartford, Connecticut. (Raised a Congregationalist, Olmsted avoided organized religion in later years.) He was driven by a sense of duty but found pursuing a career for money distasteful. Because a case of sumac poisoning weakened his eyes, Olmsted’s formal education — a combination of common and boarding schools — ended when he was eighteen. While his brother and closest friends were attending Yale, he tried a year as a clerk in a New York dry goods house and another year at sea. Neither pursuit proved agreeable. In the mid-1840s he prepared for what he thought would be a suitable profession as a gentleman farmer by living and studying with several prominent agriculturalists, among them George Geddes, whose upstate New York farm had won the state agricultural society prize for exemplary management. When his father bought him farms first in Connecticut and then on Staten Island, Olmsted envisioned himself as a “country squire” with a responsibility to disseminate scientific knowledge and rural taste.

As a youth, Frederick Law Olmsted traveled through the New England countryside with his father, who admired rural scenery; and as a young gentleman farmer, he read the latest literature on art criticism (including Ruskin’s Modern Painters), on horticulture, and on English landscape gardening. He wrote articles for Downing’s Horticulturalist on pear and apple farming and another on the attractions of Liverpool’s Birkenhead Park. With the rural improvement movement at its peak, he also helped organize an agricultural society on Staten Island for the promotion of rural tastes and scientific agriculture. But while Olmsted learned the art of landscape appreciation and the latest theories in rural improvement, he gained little experience in the work of design.

In the 1850s, Olmsted abandoned model farming for journalism, another field in which he hoped “to take up and keep a position as a recognized literateur, a man of influence in literary matters.” Following a trip to England, he published Walks and Talks of an American Farmer in England, which combined observations on the English social landscape with sentimental invocations of “Old England for ever! — Amen.” He took several journeys through the American South and sent a series of letters to the New York Times that formed the basis for his three influential books on southern mores and the economic conditions of slavery. In 1855 Olmsted became both a managing editor of Putnam’s Magazine and a partner (again through his father’s investment) in the publishing house of Dix and Edwards, which was publishing his second book.  The Dix and Edwards firm became an early casualty of the 1857 depression. A family friend, Park Commissioner Charles Elliott, encouraged Olmsted to apply for the post of the park superintendent, and he did so.

All text from:

The Park and the People

Courtesy of Barbara Blackmar & Roy Rosenzweig

Walking Tour Overview

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Book Risk Free: Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance
  • Free reschedule or full refund in case of bad weather
  • Tickets: Both printed and mobile tickets accepted

The walking tour covers all most beautiful sights of the southern half of Central Park. You will walk through some of the 58 miles of trails the park has to offer passing a lake, rocky outcrops, bridges, arches, sculptures and more.
This tour takes you off the beaten path to sights both the bikes and pedicabs cannot reach - book here.

Bicycle Tour Overview

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Book Risk Free: Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance
  • Free reschedule or full refund in case of bad weather
  • Tickets: Both printed and mobile tickets accepted

The bicycle tour provides a complete journey through 843 acres of Central Park, guaranteeing that you will see the most out of any tour available. Your tour guide will provide background information, historical insight, and point out some of the most photogenic sites for you to capture photos!
This tour covers about six miles in a casual, smooth pace with lots of stops for walking and photos. It's the ultimate way to discover Central Park - book here.

Pedicab Tour Overview

  • Duration: 1 hour, 2 hours or 3 hours
  • Book Risk Free: Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance
  • Free reschedule or full refund in case of bad weather
  • Tickets: Both printed and mobile tickets accepted

The most comfortable way to explore Central Park. No need to walk or peddle - just sit, lay back and enjoy beautiful views and insightful commentary.
This is a private tour for you and your party. A complete, relaxed, and personalized experience of Central Park. You can choose from 1 hour, 2 hours or 3 hours tour options.  Custom pick up/drop off spots are available too - book here.

Combination Tour Overview

  • Duration: 2 hours or 3 hours
  • Book Risk Free: Free cancellation up to 48 hours in advance
  • Free reschedule or full refund in case of bad weather
  • Tickets: Both printed and mobile tickets accepted

The Combined Pedicab & Bicycle Tour is ideal for parties when one part part prefers to ride their own bikes, and another part prefers the comfort of the pedicab – on this tour all the group will stay together and have stops for walking and group pictures - book here.


About Central Park

Find all the information you need to enjoy your visit to New York City's iconic Central Park.


Things To Do

From The Philharmonic on the Great Lawn to Shakespeare in the Park to SummerStage, Central Park offers an endless array of things to do, see, hear - and, with two full service restaurants and several cafes, taste.  You can visit The Shakespeare Garden, take in a performance at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater, take a ride on the Carousel - or just sit and people watch at Bethesda Terrace!


Contact Us

Contact Info

5th Ave. 
New York, NY, 10028

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