On July 23, 2011, I recited these design stories at the Boston Globe for my friends at Ink, stories inspired by the work of Frederick Law Olmsted and the impact his legacy has had on my life in particular, and three American cities – Seattle, DC, and Baltimore – in general. Each story takes place in a natural urban setting influenced or designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. This is the concluding love letter.
We have never met before. Or rather, you have never met me, but I have met you. And I have fallen in love. Through your hills and valleys, shades and groves, your writings and visions and timeless prose. You are a kindred spirit, a visionary, a designer, my hero.
I love your character and intellectual curiosity. Your tenacity and determination, your humor and grace. Not all design heros are as beautiful in action, as lovely in spirit.
All these years I never realized it, but you were there all the time. Even still, where ever I go, there you are. My life would be diminished had you not lived and worked and acted on your convictions. My stories less enriched, lacking your marvelous fauna and floral framework. Lost in the urban landscape, without your selfless gifts of parks and trees, plumed boulevards, and clearings in the distance. Without your enlightened travels and writings and abolitionist dreams.
Over 100 years later, I inhale your pastoral views, explore the physical interpretation of your thoughts and ideas; in Seattle, DC, Baltimore, New York. Everywhere I go, there you are. My head filled with wonder, my heart spilling gratitude. You did this for me? Yes, you did this for me. I am a child of this democracy and all across America, your woods belong to me.