Reverend Bushnell asked his good friend and Hartford native, Frederick Law Olmsted, to design the layout of the park. Olmsted, however, was occupied at the time with the double-duty of designing of New York City's Central Park and Springfield, Massachusetts' Forest Park, and thus declined the offer. Olmsted recommended Jacob Weidenmann, a Swiss-born landscape architect and botanist. Weidenmann's plan for the park included graceful paths and clusters of trees that shielded strollers from the sounds of the city, and enhanced the presence of the Park River which flowed through the park.
As a result of seasonal flooding, and especially after damage from the great flood of 1936, the Park River was buried in underground conduits, and a main feature of the park was lost. A pond was later added to return a water feature to the park. Today Bushnell Park is a focal point in downtown Hartford, and it is the site of several festivals and music events each year.