Cherokee Garden Library Talk: Jennifer J. Richardson and Spencer Tunnell II

Olmsted's Linear Park

Author Talks

Tuesday, May 3 2022 @ 10am - 12pm

The year 2022 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted, social reformer and founder of American landscape architecture. As part of the Olmsted 200 national celebration, the Atlanta History Center is pleased to join the National Association for Olmsted Parks, partners, friends, and the public in this effort to explore Olmsted’s living legacy.

Join us on May 3, 2022, for a Cherokee Garden Library Talk featuring Jennifer J. Richardson and Spencer Tunnell II, authors of Olmsted’s Linear Park (Arcadia Publishing, 2022).

This talk will take place in Woodruff Auditorium, followed by authors' book signing in the McElreath Atrium and hospitality in Members Room; the program is free to the public but registration is required.

About the Book

In 1892, entrepreneur Joel Hurt invited Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. to Atlanta to design “an ideal suburb.” Olmsted and his firm began designs and were in regular communication with Hurt. Members of the firm came to Atlanta during design and construction. Even with changing ownership, Olmsted’s vision and plans were followed. The design became the last residential suburb designed by Olmsted—the only one in the Deep South. The centerpiece of the neighborhood is its segmented park. After reaching a peak of beauty in the 1930s, the park and neighborhood declined, and the park was threatened by an ill-conceived expressway. Olmsted and Hurt’s dream of the linear park prevailed, and the park has been renovated to how it looked in its heyday. This is the story of how a handful of people preserved, protected, and enhanced the linear park so that it can be enjoyed for generations to come.

Book cover
Olmsted image

Frederick Law Olmsted Sr.  (April 26, 1822 – August 28, 1903), considered the father of landscape architecture, was commissioned by entrepreneur Joel Hurt to design the “ideal” suburb which is known today as Druid Hills.


This map, showing the holdings of Joel Hurt’s Kirkwood Land Company in the context of Fulton and DeKalb counties in 1892, was part of the initial design documents produced by the Olmsted Firm.

black and white scenic photo

This image shows the original conditions of what would one day become a part of Olmsted’s Linear Park during an early exploratory site visit in March 1902.


Almost 120 years later, the land that encompasses the park is a far cry from what the Olmsted Firm would have seen during their initial visits to Atlanta. While Olmsted Sr. did not live to see the park completed, his vision for the park as “public pleasure grounds” lives on, as in an early spring day in April 2020.

About the Authors

Jennifer J. Richardson, author and historian, has lived in Druid Hills for 67 years, served on the board of the Olmsted Parks Society of Atlanta, Inc., and serves on the Olmsted Linear Park Alliance (OLPA) Board. Spencer Tunnell II, OLPA and National Association of Olmsted Parks (NAOP) board member, has served as the landscape architect for the rehabilitation of the linear park.

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