Olmsted legacy

The Olmsted Legacy and LHA


Beginning in 1857 with the design for New York City’s Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), his sons and firm created designs for over 6,000 landscapes across North America, including many important parks. Lakeshore Highlands, our LHA neighborhood, was designed in 1915 by the Olmsted sons, John C. and F. L. Jr. This remarkable legacy encompasses Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, the Biltmore Estate (North Carolina), U.S. Capitol and White House grounds, Mount Royal in Montreal, Boston’s Emerald Necklace, Prospect Park (Brooklyn, NY). Millions of us benefit from their exemplary projects every day. Here in our neighborhood, we have the Olmsted team to thank for our tree-lined, curvaceous, hilly blocks interspersed with open green spaces and strategic view spots.


The Olmsteds believed in the “restorative value of landscape” and were committed “to visually compelling and accessible green space that nurtures the body and spirit of all people, regardless of their economic circumstances.” Whether in Buffalo, Seattle, Los Angeles, Atlanta’s Druid Hills, or Chicago’s Washington Park and Olympic venue, the magnitude of their work and its influence on America’s landscape are astonishing.


Olmsted’s sons were instrumental in the creation of the National Park Service, in the advancement of the role of city planning, and were founding members of the American Society of Landscape Architects.


The National Association for Olmsted Parks (NAOP) “advances Olmsted principles and the legacy of irreplaceable parks and landscapes that revitalize communities and enrich people’s lives,” and are working to document the extensive legacy. NAOP encourages public officials, developers, enthusiasts, and communities to “preserve, restore and promote Olmsted-designed parks and landscapes.” Lakeshore Homes Association participates in NAOP.


LHA was featured in NAOP’s summer newsletter issue. The following is an excerpt:


Lakeshore Homes Association: Preservation in Oakland, CA


The Lakeshore Homes Association, the second oldest west of the Mississippi, was founded in 1917 by the developer of Lakeshore Highlands as a way of protecting this “residential park” in the City of Oakland, California, designed by the Olmsted Brothers. Covenants, conditions and restrictions that go with the deeds to properties are managed by the Association. An advisory Neighborhood Preservation Committee reviews changes to the exterior of properties…


The Association also acts as a repository of historic plans, photos, and artifacts. It has given photos to the Oakland History Room of the Library. The Association plans events for the community and provides a structure for emergency preparedness using a cluster approach….In the 1950’s, the Association lost a road battle that resulted in the loss of 160 homes. However, it was subsequently able to get the support of the City in concert with Mills College and other neighborhood groups for a ban on large trucks. The truck ban remains in effect and is the only one in the country on an interstate highway (580 Freeway)….”


[All quotes, except the article excerpt, from “Saving America’s Great Historic Landscapes” by NAOP.]