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series: Olmsted And America's Urban Parks
air date: 8/24/13 4:00 AM
One-hundred and fifty-one years after Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) designed New York City's Central Park with Calvert Vaux, it remains an undisputed haven of tranquility amid one of the largest, tallest and most unnatural places in the world. OLMSTED AND AMERICA'S URBAN PARKS, narrated by actress Kerry Washington, examines the visionary urban planner and landscape architect's impact on the development of America's first great city parks in the late 19th century. With incredible foresight, Olmsted brought nourishing green spaces to New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Louisville and dozens of other U.S. cities. Throughout his working life, Olmsted and his firm carried out more than 500 commissions, including nearly 100 public parks. He believed parks should serve as vital democratic spaces, where citizens from all walks of life could converge and feel restored. Prior to officially committing to landscape architecture, Olmsted worked as a New York Times correspondent to the Confederate states, the manager of a California gold mine and General Secretary of the United States Sanitary Commission during the Civil War. Olmsted, a workaholic by today's standards, devoted the latter half of his life to creating green spaces for overworked city dwellers. Told in large part through Olmsted's own words (voiced by Oscar winning actor Kevin Kline), this film weaves together his poignant personal story and pioneering vision with contemporary footage of the lasting masterpieces he left behind.
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