Frederick Law Olmsted was among the first to regard landscape architecture as a profession and a fine art – in fact, with Calvert Vaux he virtually created that profession. Olmsted was also, far and away, the most eminent and successful person ever to practice it in this country. He was co-designer of Central Park, head of the first Yosemite commission, leader of the campaign to protect Niagara Falls, designer of the U.S. Capitol Grounds, site planner for the Great White City of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, planner of Boston’s “Emerald Necklace” of green space, and created park systems in many other cities. Olmsted’s park and parkway system in Buffalo, N.Y. is the oldest integrated system in America and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. To Olmsted, a park was both a work of art and a necessity for urban life. Olmsted’s efforts to preserve nature created an “environmental ethic” decades before the environmental movement became a force in American politics. With gorgeous cinematography, creative animation, and compelling commentary, Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America presents the biography of a man whose parks and preservation are an essential part of American life.
premiered June 20, 2014. Check local listings to see when it’s airing on your local PBS station.