John Charles Olmsted

John Charles Olmsted (1852-1920) was the adopted son of the nineteenth-century landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., widely known for designing New York City’s Central Park. Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., and John C. Olmsted carried on the business of the Olmsted firm in Brookline, MA, operating as the Olmsted Brothers and designing many urban parks, college campuses, and exposition sites. John C. had worked with his stepfather on the 1893 Columbian Exposition; laid out the grounds for the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland, OR,; and the 1909 Alaska-Yukon Pacific Exposition, held on the campus of the University of Washington, which at the time had only three buildings. Riding the wave of these successes, the Olmsted Brothers were chosen as landscape architects. John C. Olmsted spent considerable time in San Diego in late 1910 and 1911, overseeing surveys of Balboa Park and drawing up plans for the layout of buildings and roads just north of San Diego High School, which was (as today) located at the southern border of Balboa Park. His plans were initially accepted but when it was decided to site the exposition grounds on Balboa Park’s Central Mesa, the Olmsteds resigned, stating “We regret that our professional responsibility as park designers will not permit us to assist in ruining Balboa Park.”

…adapted from Balboa Park and the 1915 Exposition by Richard W. Amero.