Olmsted and America’s Urban Parks

The formation of America’s first great city parks in the late 19th century is examined through the enigmatic eyes of Frederick Law Olmsted (1822 – 1903), visionary urban planner and landscape architect. With incredible foresight, Olmsted brought nourishing green spaces to New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Louisville and dozens of other U.S. cities, including Washington, D.C. Throughout his working life, Olmsted and his firm carried out over 500 commissions, nearly 100 of which were public parks. The parks, he believed, were to be vital democratic spaces in cities, where citizens from all walks of life could intermingle and be refreshed. A workaholic by today’s standards and plagued with chronic ailments, Olmsted spent the latter half of his life devoted to creating restorative green spaces for overworked city dwellers. In large part through his own words, this film weaves together his engaging and poignant personal story with those of the lasting masterpieces he left for us today. Written and produced by Rebecca Messner.

Introduced by Deborah Gaston, Director of Education, National Museum of Women in the Arts. Discussion with filmmaker Rebecca Messner follows screening.

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