That time has come!  April, 2011 brings OLMSTED AND AMERICA’S URBAN PARKS (formerly “The Olmsted Legacy”) to a television station near you, via American Public Television.  Check your local listings for details, but below, a list.

City Station Air Date/Time
Albany-Schenectady WMHT April 20, 10 p.m.
Albuquerque KNMD April 24, 6 p.m.
Atlanta WPBA April 23, 7 p.m.
Baltimore MPT2 April 21, 11 p.m.
Birmingham WBIQ April 21, 9 p.m.
Buffalo WNED Date TBD
Charlotte WTVI April 20, 11 p.m.
UNC-TV April 28, 10 p.m.
Chattanooga WTCI April 18, 10:30 p.m.
Detroit WTVS Date TBD
Fort Myers WGCU April 20, 10 p.m.
Fresno KVPT April 19, 9 p.m.
Grand Rapids WGVU April 24, 4 p.m.
April 26, 2 a.m.
Greensboro UNC-TV April 28, 10 p.m.
Greenville-Spartansburg UNC-TV April 28, 10 p.m.
Hartford CPTV Date TBD
Jacksonville WJCT April 19, 9 p.m.
Las Vegas KLVX April 20, 10 p.m.
Los Angeles KVCR April 19, 8 p.m.
Miami WPBT April 20, 10 p.m.
Milwaukee WMVS Date TBD
New Orleans WLAE April 18, 10 p.m.
New York WNET April 20, 10 p.m.
WLIW April 22, 2 p.m.
Pensacola WSRE April 20, 9 p.m.
Phoenix KAET Date TBD
Philadelphia WLVT Date TBD
Pittsburgh MPT2 April 21, 11 p.m.
Plattsburgh Mtn Lake PBS April 21, 9 p.m.
Portland KOPB April 29, 10 p.m.
KOPB Plus April 24, 8 p.m.
Providence RIPBS April 27, 9 p.m.
Raleigh-Durham UNC-TV April 28, 10 p.m.
Reno KNPB April 19, 9 p.m.
Sacramento KVIE Date TBD
Salt Lake City KUEN Date TBD
San Francisco KQED April 24, 2 p.m.
South Bend-Elkhart WNIT April 20, 10 p.m.
Tallahassee WFSU April 21, 10 p.m.
Tampa WEDU April 21, 10 p.m.
April 26, 6 p.m.
Washington DC MPT2 April 21, 11 p.m.



Tune into WHUT available in the Washington, DC metro area, at 8:00pm on Sunday, January 2nd, 2011 for the broadcast premiere of THE OLMSTED LEGACY: AMERICA’S URBAN PARKS featuring the voices of Kevin Kline and Kerry Washington!

Below, a schedule of screenings of THE OLMSTED LEGACY: America’s Urban Parks

August 27 – Buffalo, NY at the Marcy Casino in Olmsted’s Delaware park
September 22 – Boston, MA at the Museum of Fine Arts
September 26 – Baltimore, MD at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum (2pm)
September 28 – Louisville, KY at the Speed Art Museum
October 19 – San Francisco, CA at the deYoung Museum, Golden Gate Park

Please check back for more details!

[The premiere of “The Olmsted Legacy: America’s Urban Parks” in Prospect Park on August 4.  Photo by Eugene Patron]

Hope you can join us!  And don’t forget to stop by the Dairy, Central Park’s visitor center, to watch “The Olmsted Legacy” at any time!

I met former Massachusetts Governor and Democratic presidential candidate of 1988 at the Longwood T stop in Brookline, close to his house.  It was 8:00 am, and I was scouring passengers as they got on and off the busy commuter trains, until a solidly swift-footed man with silver hair and a beige trench coat passed by me, headed straight for Olmsted Park, on the other side of the tracks.  When I caught up with him, he gave me a politician’s handshake, and threw some encouraging words about our project at me as we walked to meet the crew.  Once there, he nonchalantly tossed his briefcase on the wet grass and got straight down to business.

One of the most striking issues Dukakis mentioned in our 40-minute interview was park maintence.  You can build all the parks you want, he said, but they’re virtually useless if not properly maintained.  In fact, the former governor is famous for walking every day the two miles through the park to and from Northeastern University, where he teaches, picking up trash as he goes.  Olmsted believed stridently in this as well, and, especially while working as superintendant of Central Park, was notoriously rigid about the number of hours he wanted maintence crews to work.

Dukakis referenced the Emerald Necklace Maintenence Collaborative, an initiative that brings inmates from local correctional facilities into the parks four days a week to cut grass, pick up trash, and perform other maintenence duties.  On the fifth day, the program then provides them with horticultural and landscape training.  The program has proved enormously succesful.  To learn more about it, click here:

So, it’s not necessarily convenient that our three days in Boston are scheduled to be rain-filled with temperatures in the chilly mid 60’s (this is especially difficult for the Atlanta-based members of our crew, who came in their shorts and t-shirts, and are now saying “This is what December in Atlanta feels like!”).  The rain makes filming challenging, to say the least.

It’s helpful to think of Olmsted in times like these, when the project you’re passionate about does not go entirely as you planned or as you’d like, when you run into obstacles completely out of your control, and are forced to rethink and re-strategize.  Patience was one of the man’s most defining virtues.

And, looking on a brighter side, perhaps this abundance of wetness can also serve to remind us that Olmsted’s 1876 design for the Emerald Necklace, the park system that connects Boston Common to Franklin Park, began as a flood control project to improve the drainage and flow of the Back Bay Fens.  Olmsted created shelved banks in the Fens, (and later along the Muddy River) sinking them below street level, providing valuable flood space for the river.  He planted these banks with marsh vegetation, set paths along the river and created yet another park space that allowed visitors to separate themselves from the city.

We’re not sure that the rains here will reach flood-levels, but the water level sure is rising.

The Back Bay Fens, 1892

The Back Bay Fens, 1892

Tomorrow morning it’s an early interview with parks supporter and former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, in Olmsted Park in Brookline.  Still to come, pictures and commentary on today’s interview with Alan Banks, Fairsted’s Supervisory Park Ranger.

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