Best remembered for his landscape architecture, from New York's Central Park to Boston's Emerald Necklace to Stanford University's campus, Olmsted was also a Civil War hero, fervent abolitionist, crusading journalist, and an early voice for the environment. Most of all, he was a social reformer. He didn't simply create places that were beautiful in the abstract. An awesome and timeless intent stands behind Olmsted's designs, allowing his work to survive to the present day.
Justin Martin is a former staff writer for Fortune magazine and the author of Greenspan: The Man Behind Money and Nader: Crusader, Spoiler, Icon.