Charles Eliot, Landscape Architect (1902)

A classic biography of a pioneer in the field of landscape architecture


The history of the profession of landscape architecture in the United States is still obscure to most people, even landscape practitioners. One of the most important figures in this field was Charles Eliot, whose story is told in this richly detailed biography. It was written by his father, the president of Harvard College, in 1902, a few years after Eliot's death at age thirty-eight from spinal meningitis.

Like his colleague and partner Frederick Law Olmsted Sr., the younger Eliot was a figure of enormous talent and energy, and a major force in the profession. He emerges from his father's text as a brilliant though melancholy young man with a passion for travel, history, and the natural landscape. Included are passages from Eliot's travel writing, professional correspondence, and public reports, which bear witness to the range of his interests and intellect.

Eliot pioneered many of the fundamental principles of regional planning and laid the conceptual and political groundwork for The Trustees of Reservations, the first statewide land conservancy in the country. He played a central role in shaping the Boston Metropolitan Park System, designed several public and private landscapes, and wrote prolifically on a host of topics. His early death robbed the profession of one of its brightest lights.

In a new introduction, Keith N. Morgan offers a critical reading of Eliot's life and contributions to the fields of landscape architecture and regional planning. Morgan fills in the gaps left by Eliot's father and offers many insights into an important chapter in American landscape history.

The book includes 110 illustrations and two large fold-out maps that show the distribution of public open spaces in metropolitan Boston in 1892 and 1901.

Published in association with Library of American Landscape History: http://lalh.org/

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