• Finding Frederick Law Olmsted in Cotton's Kingdom
    Sara Zewde
    Simon & Schuster, 2025
    Sara Zewde

Sara Zewde, “Virginia,” 2019. Digital photograph. Courtesy Sara Zewde

In 1852, the New York Daily Times commissioned a thirty-year-old Frederick Law Olmsted to conduct an immersive research journey through the Southern slave states. This journey through the so-called Cotton Kingdom would become a centerpiece of his inspiration, methods, and legacy as a landscape architect and to the landscapes across America that he shaped. This book project, titled Finding Frederick Law Olmsted in Cotton's Kingdom, retraces Olmsted’s itinerary south on a contemporary journey, 165 years later. As a Black woman, born and raised in the South, and a practitioner in the profession of landscape architecture that he founded, the author follows Olmsted’s path in search of how his journey inspired in him the radical idea that public parks could redress society’s ills at the height of slavery in America and the implications for landscape architecture today.

Sara Zewde is founding principal of Studio Zewde, a design firm practicing landscape, urbanism, and public art. Named to Architectural Digest’s AD100, an Emerging Voice by the Architectural League of New York, and to ArchDaily's Best New Practices, the firm is celebrated for its design methods that sync culture, ecology, and craft. In parallel with practice, Zewde serves as assistant professor of practice at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (GSD). Zewde holds an MArch from Harvard GSD, a master’s of city planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a bachelor’s of arts in sociology and statistics from Boston University.