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Biltmore guests are invited to take note of the landscape as they travel up the Approach Road to Biltmore House. The winding road, lush vegetation, and trickling streams were all designed to affect the subconscious. It was the genius of one man, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who was hired by Biltmore’s owner George Vanderbilt to transform the estate from dilapidated and overworked land to the rich beauty guests experience now. After walking along the final stretch of Approach Road and passing through the gates, Biltmore House “breaks suddenly and fully” upon you as you turn the corner—just as Olmsted described to Vanderbilt in his initial plan.

 

Members of Biltmore’s landscaping department pause from their work on the Approach Road to be photographed during a site visit from Frederick Law Olmsted and George Vanderbilt (highlighted; right foreground).

 

“I suggest the most striking and pleasing impression of the Estate will be obtained if an approach can be made that shall have throughout a natural and comparatively wild and secluded character… until the visitor passes with an abrupt transition into the enclosure of the trim, level, open, airy, spacious, thoroughly artificial court, and the Residence, with its orderly dependencies, breaks suddenly and fully upon him.”

—Frederick Law Olmsted to George Vanderbilt, July 12, 1889

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