The Olmsted Brothers Plan
The Park Commission soon hired the Olmsted Brothers Firm of Brookline Massachusetts, the renowned landscape architectural firm originally established by Frederick Law Olmsted. The firm consisted of Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. (1870-1957), son of the man known as the founder of American landscape architecture, 1928 and his step-brother, John Charles Olmsted (1852-1920). The firm designed a comprehensive system to consist of urban and suburban parks, a mountain reservation, and parkways along the Elizabeth and Rahway Rivers to create a variety of active and passive recreational opportunities for county residents. The plan represented a major development in environmental, social and urban history and supported the 20th century movement to protect natural resources and to enhance quality of life in urban areas. Development of the park system was a massive undertaking. Acquisition of land was made by purchase; corporate, private and municipal donation; and, in some cases, by condemnation. The first acquisition was a four-acre tract along the Rahway River donated by the Wheatena Company in 1922.
Both the Commissioners and the Olmsted Brothers envisioned a park system that would serve all municipalities within Union County, protect scenic areas for outdoor enjoyment and enhance quality of life for residents. The Union County Park System would become part of an interconnected regional park system linked to Essex County, the first New Jersey park system designed by the Olmsted Brothers.