Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks Collection, 1903-1998

Overview of the Collection

Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks
Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks Collection
1903-1998 (inclusive)
1903-1927 (bulk)
3 reels of microfilm, 45 drawings
Collection Number
Copies of Olmsted plans for selected Seattle parks, as well as microfilm reels containing job files.
Seattle Municipal Archives
Seattle Municipal Archives
Office of the City Clerk
City of Seattle
PO Box 94728
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 2062337807
Fax: 2063869025
Access Restrictions

Records are open to the public.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Seattle’s park system was largely designed by the Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm from Massachusetts. John Charles Olmsted created a master plan in 1903 that laid out a 20-mile-long system of parks and boulevards from Seward Park to Ravenna Park and west to Fort Lawton. Olmsted also encouraged the creation of playgrounds throughout the city so that all residents would have one within a half mile of their homes.

Seattle’s citizens were enthusiastic about Olmsted’s plan and passed $3.5 million in bond measures to enhance the city’s parks. Within eight years, Seattle’s park acreage had doubled, with the addition of such parks as Seward, Ravenna, Leschi, and Green Lake. The Olmsted firm continued its work for the city, and by 1937 had designed 37 parks and playgrounds, as well as the grounds for the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Through a grant from the King County Landmarks and Heritage Commission, Friends of Seattle's Olmsted Parks (FSOP) gathered information on and copies of Olmsted documents related to Seattle public projects, in an effort to make the collection more accessible to researchers. The Seattle Municipal Archives was one of the repositories chosen for deposit of the materials.

Included in the collection are copies of some of the Olmsted plans for selected parks, including: Lincoln (on Capitol Hill), Washington Park, Cowen, and Schmitz parks. A guide in the repository contains a plan inventory index, showing locations of drawings at the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Seattle Municipal Archives, and the University of Washington. The drawings were copied from the originals at the Olmsted National Historic Site in Brookline, also known as Fairsted. Color slides were also taken of additional plans; these have not yet been deposited at the Seattle and researchers should contact FSOP directly at

Three reels of microfilm from the Records of the Olmsted Associates (Mss. 20,112.2) from the Library of Congress form part of the collection as well. Reels 95, 96 and 97 contain job files for work in Seattle which includes correspondence, memoranda, trip reports, and other material. The guide indexes the reels to specific parks and job numbers. For a complete listing and index of all the microfilm reels, go to the Library of Congress online catalog at and search for "Olmsted Associates."

The guide to the FSOP collection also contains photocopies of the Olmsted Plan Index Cards created for each plan or drawing listing date, draftsman, plan number, and other information. Photocopies of the Fairsted Plan Inventory, listing plans related to each job number, for a portion of the collection at Fairsted are also included in the Guide.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

[Item and date], Friends of Seattle's Olmsted Parks Collection, Record Series 5801-03. Seattle Municipal Archives.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Location of Originals

Library of Congress; and National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Friends of Seattle's Olmsted Parks Collection, 1903-1998Return to Top

Description Dates
Resource Guide
Contains project background, researcher instructions, and indexes.
Olmsted Plan Inventory Index, Microfilm Index, Index Cards, Fairsted Plan Inventory Lists
Contains index to plan inventory, including key to database; index to microfilm reels; photocopies of index cards relating to plans and drawings; and inventory of Fairsted plans.
Olmsted Plan Reference Copies
Reproductions of Olmsted maps and plans. Small reproductions are in comb-bound booklet; larger reproductions also available.
Seattle job files, including correspondence, memoranda, trip reports, and other material.
Reel 95: Records of the Olmsted Associates, B129-B130
Reel 96: Records of the Olmsted Associates, B130-B131
Reel 97: Records of the Olmsted Associates, B131-B133

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Landscape architects--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Parks--Washington (State)--Seattle

Corporate Names

  • Olmsted Associates

Geographical Names

  • Cowen Park (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Lincoln Park (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Schmitz Park (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Seattle (Wash.)
  • Washington Park (Seattle, Wash.)

Form or Genre Terms

  • Drawings
  • Microfilms