Online Presentation: The Best Planned City: Olmsted, Vaux, and the Buffalo Park System

Despite all the evidence and all the advocacy, our political leaders are still not up to the challenge of dealing with something that is a threat to life as we have come to know it here on this planet. True leadership seems to be in short supply these days.

There are a host of professions that could be showing much greater leadership. Many have learnt to be spin doctors and have filled pages with their commitments and their policies. All this is very nice and very polite.

Meanwhile are we seeing the marked changes to the way we go about our urban areas? Check out most of the new developments and you will see token efforts at greenery and places that will potentially be heat traps and be a danger to the residents’ health and wellbeing.

At best the changes to urban design and the development and redevelopment of our urban spaces continues to be very slow and at best it is ad hoc.

All this green wash and spin does not deliver actions. Occasionally in our history there has been leadership by a few.

There’s an online presentation about the 1868 development of the parks and parkways that Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux designed for Buffalo, New York.

A thirteen-minute documentary inspired by the book by author Francis R. Kowsky.

At the time, this development of connected green spaces as a park system was a revolutionary idea. Olmsted and Vaux’s plans drew national and international attention; they were displayed at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, where Olmsted declared Buffalo “the best planned city, as to its streets, public places, and grounds, in the United States, if not in the world.

enjoy and pass it on to others.


Paul Costigan, 2nd February 2014

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