The Best Planned City in the World
Olmsted, Vaux, and the Buffalo Park System
Featuring LALH author Francis R. Kowsky, this film explores the development of the nation’s first park system, designed for Buffalo by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1868. Drawing national and international attention, their scheme carefully augmented the city’s original plan with urban features inspired by Second Empire Paris, including the first system of “parkways” to grace an American city. Displaying the plan at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Olmsted declared Buffalo “the best planned city, as to its streets, public places, and grounds, in the United States, if not in the world.”
Olmsted and Vaux dissolved their historic partnership in 1872, but Olmsted continued his association with the Queen City of the Lakes, designing additional parks and laying out important sites within the growing metropolis. When Niagara Falls was threatened by industrial development, he led a campaign to protect the site and, in 1885, succeeded in persuading New York to create the Niagara Reservation, the present Niagara Falls State Park. Two years later, Olmsted and Vaux teamed up again, this time to create a plan for the area around the Falls, a project the two grand masters regarded as “the most difficult problem in landscape architecture to do justice to.”
You can read more about the Buffalo park system in The Best Planned City in the World.
Created by LALH in association with Florentine Films/Hott Productions, Inc.
2015 Society of Architectural Historians Film Award