In 1913 Frank Vanderlip and a group of investors purchased 25,000 acres on the Palos Verdes Peninsula situated along the southern border of Los Angeles County, and hired Olmsted Brothers to develop the expansive coastal landscape. James Dawson served as the project lead along with Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., after John Charles Olmsted passed away in 1920.
Palos Verdes was one of Olmsted Brothers largest and most complex projects. Input from scientists, engineers, and horticulturalists was required to transform the site from rugged, hilly lime-shale terrain to 16,000 acres suitable for luxury homes, a country club, resorts, golf courses, and parkland, all with sweeping views and vistas to the rocky coast and Pacific Ocean. As planned, the project is divided into distinct districts, each with a school and commercial area and regionally-sympathetic styles that vary from Mediterranean to Tudor to Italianate. Trails and parkways weave through parkland along the coast, and plazas and neighborhood parks provide central gathering spaces for residents and visitors. Curvilinear roads were designed to avoid degrading the existing terrain. Deed restrictions were put in place to maintain aesthetics, and a paid Art Jury is still employed to preserve community character and standards in architecture and landscape design in the older, now historic parts of the development. Several buildings, including the Wayfarers Chapel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and the Palos Verdes Public Library and Farnham Martin's Park designed by Myron Hunt and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.