“Transmitted as never before”: the communication revolution and the green infrastructure, 1830 – 1880

On 22nd September 2022, I gave a presentation to an international symposium on ‘The Genesis of the Green Infrastructure’, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted. The presentation is now available, along with other materials from the symposium, on the symposium website and on YouTube. 

This presentation reviewed developments in information and communications technologies, and associated legislation and infrastructure, during the period 1830-1880, in the context of the development of the green infrastructure, particularly public parks. Focusing on developments in ‘steam-powered knowledge’, including transport by ship and train, publishing and printing, and communication through the telegraph and through national and international postal services, the ways in which these were used by landscape designers and horticulturalists were outlined. I noted that this group were among the earliest and most enthusiastic adopters of the new information environment. Four main channels were considered: visits [especially Olmsted’s tour of England and Wales] ; personal correspondence; specialist publications, including books and journals; and general publications including newspapers and magazines. Topics given special attention were: improved technology for illustrations in publications; international, and especially transatlantic, publishing; the importance for the subject at that time of newspapers and illustrated magazines. These are exemplified inter alia by the works of park designers Edward Kemp and Frederick Law Olmsted, the publishers Bradbury and Evans, and the Illustrated London News. Suggestions for further research, by archive study and by social network analysis, were made. 

The presentation can be viewed in session 4 of the symposium website and on YouTube

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