In January, New York Times photographer Ruth Fremson stood on the 71st floor of 111 West 57th Street, a luxury skyscraper in Manhattan. Below her, Central Park was a vast frosty oasis hemmed in by tall buildings. Skaters were followed by their shadows in the morning sunlight as they glided on the ice at Wollman Rink.
Central Park was designed in part by Frederick Law Olmsted, the 19th century landscape architect who designed many public spaces around the country. He was born 200 years ago, and in commemoration of his bicentennial, Fremson traveled around the country photographing many of his works, including Manhattan’s gem.
She visited some of his most beloved parks, as well as a sampling of other spaces, like the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. Her goal was to give readers a sense of his legacy in different regions of the country. In all, she visited 15 locations.
With each trip, she found herself more impressed by Olmsted’s vision and the generosity of his foresight. He designed these spaces and supervised the planting of hundreds of thousands of seedlings. He knew he would not see his plans fully implemented, or enjoy the shade of these trees once they matured. But her favorite part of the project was meeting the people around the country who enjoyed the spaces Olmsted designed, yet didn’t recognize his name when she explained what she was working on. Their eyes lit up when she told them who designed Central Park, realizing that he had helped to create a place which had meaning for them, too.
Ruth Fremson is a Seattle-based photographer who covers national stories. She is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who previously covered international news, primarily in the Middle East and South Asia.
Since 1851, the New York Times has been on the ground reporting stories from around the globe that no one else was telling. How we tell those stories has changed, but our mission to seek the truth and help people understand the world has remained constant.
Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in the mid-19th century, Prospect Park is Brooklyn’s flagship park — welcoming more than 10 million visits each year.
Prospect Park Alliance is the non-profit organization that sustains “Brooklyn’s Backyard,” working in partnership with the city of New York. The Alliance was founded in 1987 to help restore the park after a long period of deterioration and decline. Today, the Alliance provides critical staff and resources that keep the park green and vibrant for the diverse communities that call Brooklyn home. The Alliance cares for the woodlands and natural areas, restores the park’s buildings and landscapes, creates innovative park destinations, and provides free or low-cost volunteer, education, and recreation programs.
Today, Prospect Park is an international model for the care of urban parks, and one of the premier green spaces in the United States.
NYC Parks is the steward of more than 30,000 acres of land — 14 percent of New York City — including more than 5,000 individual properties ranging from Coney Island Beach and Central Park to community gardens and Greenstreets. We operate more than 800 athletic fields and nearly 1,000 playgrounds, 1,800 basketball courts, 550 tennis courts, 65 public pools, 51 recreational facilities, 15 nature centers, 14 golf courses, and 14 miles of beaches. We care for 1,200 monuments and 23 historic house museums. We look after 600,000 street trees, and two million more in parks. We are New York City’s principal providers of recreational and athletic facilities and programs. We are home to free concerts, world-class sports events, and cultural festivals.
Olmsted’s Enduring Gift
Featuring: Ruth FremsonView Location Details Number 44 on the official photoville map Click to download this year's map Litchfield Villa Lawn, Prospect Park
95 Prospect Park West
Brooklyn, NY 11215
- Monday 5:00 am - 1:00 am
- Tuesday 5:00 am - 1:00 am
- Wednesday 5:00 am - 1:00 am
- Thursday 5:00 am - 1:00 am
- Friday 5:00 am - 1:00 am
- Saturday 5:00 am - 1:00 am
- Sunday 5:00 am - 1:00 am
Photographed by Ruth Fremson
Written by Audra D.S. Burch
Edited by Sarah Eckinger and Clinton Cargill