Featuring Academy Award winning actor KEVIN KLINE as the voice of Frederick Law Olmsted and KERRY WASHINGTON as narrator.

151 years after Frederick Law Olmsted designed New York City’s Central Park with Calvert Vaux, it remains an undisputed haven of tranquility amidst one of the largest, tallest, and most unnatural places on earth.

OLMSTED AND AMERICA’S URBAN PARKS, a one hour documentary, examines the formation of America’s first great city parks in the late 19th century through the enigmatic eyes of Frederick Law Olmsted (1822 – 1903), visionary urban planner and landscape architect.

With incredible foresight that spanned centuries, Olmsted brought nourishing green spaces to New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Louisville, and dozens of other US cities.  Throughout his working life, Olmsted and his firm carried out over 500 commissions, nearly 100 of which were public parks.  The parks, he held, were  to be vital democratic spaces in cities, where citizens from all walks of life could intermingle and be refreshed.

Prior to officially committing to landscape architecutre, Olmsted was 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.  The man, a workaholic by today’s standards, plagued with chronic ailments, spent the latter half of his life devoting nearly every waking minute 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.

For more information about the film, please contact Rebecca Messner:  rebecca@theolmstedlegacy.com


7 Responses to “About the Film”

  1. Michael said

    Looks like a great project! Nice work on the blog!

  2. Ron H. said

    Thanks for the great updates on this very interesting project! May the rest of your shoot be “rain-free” and “fully licensed for propane!”

  3. Jane said

    Such an elegant project – I am so glad to see it being done. The two FLOs were remarkable and visionary people.

  4. Amy Harmon said

    It was nice to meet you in Atlanta. I am looking forward to seeing the completed project.

  5. Resplendent and timely! As the Artistic Director and Founder of Theatre in Motion of NYC, I am proud to say that we perform an original musical play about Olmsted for intergenerational audiences. (“The Promise of Central Park”) Being a devout Olmstedian, I am thoroughly delighted to witness your documentary endeavor. By the way, our play has an award-winning music CD (the score, also entitled “The Promise of Central Park” on CDBABY.com)……Anyone who loves Central Park, Olmsted’s legacy and its appilcation today, as well as good musical theatre will enjoy this CD. Once again, I applaud your doumentary!!

  6. Boston Resident said

    Dear Ms. Messner:

    Does your documentary include coverage of the sex park in the Fens in Boston (one of Olmsted’s masterpieces), a notoriously dangerous section in the heart of the city known for public sex, drug use, assaults, vandalism, littered with needles and used condoms? Anyone who truly cares about Olmsted’s legacy would speak up against this disgraceful public safety issue that most certainly desecrates Olmsted’s legacy. Note: your documentary will be featured Sept. 22 in Boston, at the MFA, which abuts the Fens. The MFA has been conspicuously silent about the public safety hazard that exists outside its fronts steps.

    The following articles more fully address this serious issue:

    Boston Globe, Sept. 22, 2009 OpEd: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/editorials/articles/2009/09/22/policing_welcome_presence_in_the_fens/ (Note: Reader Comments)

    Boston Globe, Sept. 21, 2009: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/09/21/police_presence_in_fens_draws_mixed_reaction/ (Note: Reader Comments)

    Bay Windows, Sept. 21, 2009 Opinion by City Councilor Mike Ross: http://www.baywindows.com/index.php?ch=opinion&sc=guest_opinions&sc2=news&sc3=&id=96570

    Boston Globe, Sept. 10, 2006: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2006/09/10/panthas_are_on_the_prowl_in_fens/

    Bay Windows, Sept. 10, 2009: http://www.baywindows.com/index.php?ch=opinion&sc=editorial&sc2=news&sc3=&id=96185


  7. drb said

    Awesome! When will this be out on DVD? Looking forward to seeing it this fall.

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