By PVE Trails & Open Space Conservancy

PVE  TRAILS thru Parklands & Paths


In early 1923, Olmsted was appointed as one of three managing partners of what became known as Palos Verdes Estates (PVE), along with C. H. Cheney and E.G. Lewis (who left a couple months thereafter). In the early years, Olmsted Jr. established a nursery, which was  partly in an area now known as Cabrillo Park in Lunada Bay, that helped provide many of the trees planted in PVE and that were available to residents at cost. He also had the main North Entrance landscaped with flowers that bloomed all year long and had wild flowers planted along many of the trails. In total, it was said he had some 100,000 trees planted, both native and non-native. Often the selection of the varieties for "ravine and hillside trees," which were located on Parkland, were different than for "street trees," which were located on right-of-way. Despite Olmsted's Jr. interest in developing forested lands in PVE, he realized that the spectacular views afforded on many lots influenced their values and were important to residents. He therefore arranged for provisions to allow trees to be trimmed to preserve views.

Even though Olmsted's firm developed plans for the entire 16,000 acres owned by Vanderlip and his syndicate, due to financial issues, detailed plans were only developed for Palos Verdes Estates in two areas beginning around 1923. The main area, consisting of five districts or neighborhoods, (including Valmonte, Malaga Cove, Margate and Lunada Bay) was located on the northwest part of the Peninsula near Redondo Beach. The second and much smaller area, near San Pedro, was a district known as Miraleste. Together, these six districts comprised Palos Verdes Estates (PVE) containing what was mentioned as about 3,200 acres according to a 1926 PVE Map. (However, in a 1930 article by Warren D. Cheney a more detailed area of 3,225 acres was mentioned.) Once these two areas became more developed and established, the concept was to ultimately develop other districts between those noted and expand Palos Verdes Estates comprising most of the Peninsula, according to the Olmsted Brother's master plan. In addition, around the Portuguese Bend coastal area, considerations were made for Vanderlip, his friends and those in his syndicate to have large estates. There were even plans and efforts to establish a large state university on the Peninsula as part of the overall concept, along with an electric trolley (light rail) that would connect the Peninsula with the surrounding cities and downtown Los Angeles. Since PVE was considered to have a relatively remote location when it was being developed, each of the districts or neighborhoods were planned to have at least one or multiple business districts of various sizes. (However, only one of these, Malaga Cove Plaza, was developed.) The largest commercial area, accompanied by a marina, was planned for Lunada Bay. Sites for schools and playgrounds were well located throughout PVE to be convenient for residents and their families. Along with a trail system comprised of green belts formed by parklands and that could also be accessed by Paths, PVE was planned for people to walk or ride on horseback using a trail network, or ride on a trolley, besides using motorized vehicles on the streets. There were also plans for more affordable housing, including areas for apartments and duplexes in each district, as shown on the aforementioned map. Therefore, the original vision by Olmsted Jr., E.G. Gardner and others who founded PVE, was a much larger and more diverse development than what it is today. A relatively slow development start and the Great Depression starting in 1929, however, had a significant impact upon the vision and plans of Olmsted Jr. and the other founders of PVE.  

As a tribute to Olmsted Jr., a small park in PVE at Via Corta and PV Dr. West and a Canyon & trail that border the PV Golf Club are named after him.  Many PVE residents consider it very special to live in a community that was not only designed by Olmsted Jr., but one that he also considered his home for nearly a decade. 

 Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.  

Frederick Olmsted, Jr.

By L. R. Schott

Frederick Olmsted Jr. was the son Frederick Olmsted, who was famous for designing Central Park in New York, the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina and many other projects. However, Olmsted Jr., had many notable design accomplishments of his own. He was the successor of his father's firm that became known as the Olmsted Brothers. The Olmsted firm developed the plans for a couple dozen universities, including Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Bryn Mawyr, Vassar, Oberlin, Denison.... Olmsted Jr. was especially active in the design of such National Park service managed sites as the Jefferson Memorial, the National Mall and the White House Grounds. Additionally, he worked on such National Parks as Acadia, Everglades and Yosemite and was active with park plans for such cities as Seattle and Atlanta (Piedmont Park). His firm designed other communities besides Palos Verdes Estates, such as Forest Hills Gardens in NY as well as many large estates, including Frank Vanderlip's Beechwood on the Hudson. It was this connection with Vanderlip that brought the Olmsted firm to work on the project in Palos Verdes beginning in 1914. Olmsted Jr. also taught landscape architecture at Harvard University and was also a founding member of the Am. Society of Landscape Architects. 

In the development of what was first known as the Palos Verdes Ranch, and then called the Palos Verdes Project when plans resumed after World War I,  an important condition the Syndicate required of Olmsted's firm is that Olmsted Jr. needed to reside on the project. Since the Olmsted firm was entrenched in Massachusetts, and it was much more arduous to travel cross country then than now, this required an enormous commitment for him and his associates. He lived in Malaga Cove on a bluff from 1924 until 1931. The home still remains today.