Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. was deemed the first American landscape architect, but did not begin building on his career until his 30s. When Olmsted retired in 1895, his son and stepson founded the Olmsted Brothers Landscape Architects, which became a family business. The landscape architects of the Olmsted family works include the Biltmore Estate gardens, Central Park in New York City and East Front plaza of the U.S. Capitol, along with several college campus grounds and gardens.
The Olmstead family drew up plans in 1904 that would interlink Baltimore’s signature parks. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has partnered with over 40 organizations to make these plans a reality. The Baltimore Greenway Trails Coalition is devising a plan that would link three existing trails, which would form a 35-mile interconnected loop. Only 10 miles of small connecting trails are required to complete the loop, but the cost would total up to an estimated $25 million.
To complete the project four legs will be required, which is already in the design phase. A trail through West Baltimore would connect Druid Hill Park to Leakin Park; another trail would connect Lake Montebello to Wyman Park; a third would begin at Middle Branch Park and run through Port Covington to the Inner Harbor; and a fourth would run through Canton Waterfront Park to Herring Run Park. To build the southeast leg, the city would have to obtain some property.
The coalition is turning to grant-making organizations and businesses, instead of relying on the city to fund the project. The Baltimore school system is facing budget shortfalls and the Police Department is dealing with increasing overtime.
The residents also have concerns that an interconnected system could change the city neighborhoods. Attracting wealthier people to the area could lead to gentrification. The trail development manager at the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Jim Brown, said the idea is gaining political support and work has already begun to connect the trails.
Mayor Catherine Pugh supports the idea, as she is an avid runner. City Councilman Brandon Scott also supports the idea. Advocates say an estimated 1,100 people would utilize the interconnected trail system, helping to reduce greenhouse emissions and traffic congestions.
Residents are encouraged to attend a community meeting scheduled for April 25 at the 29th Street Community Center on North Charles Street. The topic will be the Herring Run Trail and Jones Falls trail interlinking plan.