Home > Uncategorized > Olmsted The Landscape Architect

Olmsted The Landscape Architect

After reading excerpts from A Journey through Texas, or a Saddle-Trip on the Western Frontier, it becomes evident that our author, Frederick Olmsted, is an architect. This is because, within the first couple of pages Olmsted references windows, doors, and different room measurements at least 20 times. He uses exact measurements, distance, and temperature to depict his position/location. Where other people would qualify a room being either small, medium or large, Olmsted lists the dimensions of different rooms so that the reader can picture it more accurately.. Where others may miss out on minor details such as doors or windows, Olmsted obsesses over them. Olmsted differs from other authors that I have read during this era because he prefers to describe things in their exactness rather than portraying something ambiguously and allowing the reader to interpret it however he/she wishes. He is deeply angered by things such as: broken windows and unkept doors or frames that have no door at all. Olmsted uses multiple door/window analogies very frequently to portray his discomfort. He believes that the state some of these doors and windows are in, reflect the class/worth of the inhabitants of Texas. 

Also, Olmsted portrays parts of Texas as being either beautiful or ugly. For the most part, he viewed Texas (and it’s residents) as wild, and unkept. The beautiful parts were  mostly naturally a splendor, it was the portions that were touched by men, and were unkept, that were in ruin. This made me think, did Texan’s really allow the beauty of their land to depreciate this much, due to laziness? Was he judging Texas the way a normal person from the East Coast would, or was he judging Texas based on the way a professional landscape architect would? Either way, these are very interesting things to consider.

Anyways, I thought that hearing Texas portrayed through the perspective of an architect, east coast resident, and an abolitionist was absolutely fascinating, even though it did not portray Texas in the light I had hoped.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 8, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    I had not considered the dichotomy between the natural and developed sections of Texas that Olmsted described, but I immediately recognized what you were talking about when I read your post. Olmsted’s commentary on the depreciation of the land as a potential result of slavery is fascinating, and certainly adds a new dimension to the commentary he’s making on the region.

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