Segments in this Video

Introduction: Olmsted and America's Urban Parks (01:29)


New York City dwellers are crammed into tenements; there are no community areas. Olmsted's Central Park provides a greenbelt and waterways for relaxation and recreation.

Part One: A Decently Restrained Vagabond Life (14:49)

Olmsted tours Europe and observes democratic "peoples' gardens," becoming convinced that American cities need parks. Olmsted wants to design the park planned for New York City, and obtains the job of park Superintendent. Architect Calvert Vaux convinces Olmsted to join him in a competition for the design of Central Park; the duo's design wins.

Part Two: The First Real Park (10:30)

Olmsted and Vaux take 15 years to construct Central Park; over 100,000 people visit America's first park. Olmsted marries and the next year he breaks his leg and his first son dies of cholera. The Civil War begins, and Olmsted decides to volunteer for the Union army.

Part Three: Yeoman's Interlude (03:22)

Olmsted organizes the entire Union army's medical aid units into efficiency. Olmsted accepts an offer to supervise a gold mine in California, and is impressed with the beauty of the wilderness. In 1864, Olmsted is appointed to the Yosemite Commission, creating the first conservation of state lands.

Part Four: A Perfect Park (07:26)

Architect Vaux receives a commission for a park in Brooklyn, and convinces Olmsted to join him. Granted freedom in their design, the duo creates a park containing a mile of grass meadow and tranquil water landscapes.

Part Five: A Greener America (16:05)

Olmsted's sons, John and Frederick, join his business; Vaux and Olmsted part ways. Olmsted receives commissions for parks across the nation; his ideas for connecting city neighborhoods with green spaces become popular. When Olmsted develops dementia, his sons complete his last project, and Olmsted retires in 1897 at the age of 75.

Credits: Olmsted and America's Urban Parks (02:04)

Credits: Olmsted and America's Urban Parks

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Olmsted and America's Urban Parks

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Frederick Law Olmsted designed New York City's Central Park with Calvert Vaux over 150 years ago, and it remains an undisputed haven of tranquility amidst one of the largest, tallest, and most unnatural places on earth. This film examines the creation of America's great city parks in the late 1800s through the enigmatic eyes of Frederick Law Olmsted, visionary urban planner and landscape architect. In his own words, Olmsted and America's Urban Parks weaves together Olmsted's engaging and poignant personal story with those of the lasting masterpieces he left for us today, featuring Academy Award®-winning actor Kevin Kline as the voice of Frederick Law Olmsted.

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL131241

Copyright date: ©2011

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video, Dealer and Publisher customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.