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Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect of our city's park system, marks a birth anniversary Tuesday. Born April 26, 1822, the premier American landscape architect first pursued a career as a journalist, traveling throughout the South in the decade before the Civil War and sending stories home to the New York Daily Times.

In 1858, together with architect Calvert Vaux, he won the competition for the design of Central Park in New York City, marking the beginning of his long and distinguished career as a park designer and urban planner. Olmsted went on to design parks for Boston; Hartford, Conn.; Louisville, Ky.; Albany; Chicago; Detroit; Rochester; Niagara Falls; Montreal, and Washington, D.C. "Motivated by a passionate humanism and deeply concerned with preserving the city as the center of civilization," wrote Buffalo News art critic Jean Reeves on the occasion of the Olmsted sesquicentennial observance in 1972, "Olmsted preserved not merely to preserve but because he believed that a close association with natural beauty was one of the most necessary elements of human life."

Buffalo Friends of Olmsted Parks invites you to renew that bond through the Breakfast Club Tours, early morning walking tours of Buffalo's great Olmsted parks. "Our tours," the promotion says, "reveal the magic and majesty of Olmsted's design," including original features and configuations. A hearty picnic breakfast under the trees will follow each tour.

The schedule includes Martin Luther King Jr. Park, June 11; Riverside Park and Riverwalk, June 25; Delaware Park Family Tour, July 9; Cazenovia Park, July 23; bus and walking tour of Olmsted Parkways, Aug. 6. Each tour starts at 9 a.m. and costs $9 for members, $13 for non-members. The parkways tour is $12 for members and $15 for non-members. For information, call the Buffalo Friends of Olmsted Parks at 838-1249.

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