CAMDEN — Camden Public Library joins the nationwide “Olmsted 200” celebration of the work and philosophy of the Olmsted firm over the past two hundred years of American park design.

Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. (b. 1822), and his sons’ designs of parks had an enormous impact on the philosophy and appearance of public spaces in the country and Camden.

Pictured is the sea wall and dam construction, 1930-31. ., Courtesy of the National Association of Olmsted Parks

The Camden library will offer an exhibit in the Picker Room throughout October celebrating Harbor Park and the Village Green as part of Camden’s “Olmsted 200” celebration. The exhibit will portray in photographs and text the Olmsted design philosophy, vintage construction photographs, modern color photographs, and the story of how the Park came to be, thanks to the generosity of Mary Louise Curtis Bok.

Eleanor Ames will give a talk on Tuesday, Oct. 26 on Zoom. Eleanor “Noni” Ames is a landscape designer, historian and co-chair of the National Association for Olmsted Parks.

Olmsted promoted comprehensive urban and regional planning, connecting communities through a network of parks and natural spaces. Olmsted envisioned the preservation of America’s great scenic features for the enjoyment of all, and his son played a critical role in the creation of the National Park System. The Olmsted firm undertook nearly 6,000 projects over 100 years, including New York’s Central Park, Boston’s Emerald Necklace, the grounds of the United States Capitol, Seattle’s Washington Park and the Palos Verdes community in California.

Pictured is a vintage image of Camden’s Village Green. Courtesy of the National Association of Olmsted Parks

“Hired by patron Mary Louise Curtis Bok,” says the Cultural Landscape Foundation, “Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. prepared a plan in 1928 for the neglected two-acre hillside between Camden Harbor and the Camden Library. Simultaneously, Fletcher Steele designed the Camden Library Amphitheatre.

Mysterious paths are a key design element in Harbor Park

After a period of neglect, both Harbor Park and the Camden Library Amphitheatre were rehabilitated in 2004. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. The Harbor Park project was originally known as Camden Shore Front Park.

Harbor Park in the winter. Photo by Tim Shaw